- NBA legend Kobe Bryant visited Manila for the first time after his retirement
- Thousands of fans showed up at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum to pay tribute to him
- With dimmed lights, the fans greeted Bryant’s entrance by flashing their mobile phones’ lights
- Bryant is in the country for a training camp as part of his Mamba Mentality tour
NBA legend Kobe Bryant was in town for the weekend for the first time since he retired and he received a dose of Filipino adoration.
CNN Philippines reported that thousands of fans and basketball aficionados braved the hot and humid weather and lined up outside the SMART-Araneta Coliseum to see a glimpse of the basketball superstar.
When the activities ended, host Aaron Atayde introduced Bryant with a heartfelt message.
“With everything that Kobe has done for each and every one of us, I need everyone who has ever cheered for Kobe to take out your phone and turn on your flashlight,” Atayde said.
The emotional crowd erupted into cheers and applause when the lights in the coliseum dimmed. They greeted Bryant by lighting up the whole area with lights from their mobile phones.
It was the fans’ way of saluting Bryant for a wonderful 20-year career in the NBA.
“I just wanna say thank you so much for inspiring me on this journey. It’s crazy. I started playing basketball when I was two years old, and I’ve never ever in my wildest dreams ever imagined everything that came after,” the five-time champion said.
He was surprised to see a painted tarpaulin of his iconic still from his renowned Nike commercial, “The Conductor”, hanging from the rafters of the coliseum.
Bryant was in Manila for his Mamba Mentality tour. He conducted a training camp for selected players.
“Thank you so much. I’m deeply honored by that. I’m speechless about it. I love you. I will see you soon.” Bryant said.
The fans celebrated with cheers as Bryant hinted visiting again in the future. He has been in the country five times.
“I retired professionally as a basketball player but I have not retired of coming to Manila. The Black Mamba is now retired, but now I’ve passed that on to all of you, to be Mambas in your own right,” he said.