Sabrina Ionescu honored the late Kobe Bryant ahead of the WNBA season opener on Friday night.
The WNBA’s 2020 number one pick arrived at the Barclays Center wearing a Kobe Bryant Black Mamba city edition jersey – No. 8 – no doubt channeling her mentor ahead of the New York Liberty’s first game at their new home in Brooklyn.
It’s not the first time Ionescu has honored the Lakers legend, and we doubt it will be the last.
Ionescu pays tribute to Kobe Bryant
The former Oregon star concluded her collegiate career with the Ducks with a powerful message to her teammates at Matthew Knight Arena, thanking them for not letting her light get overshadowed by darkness in the wake of Bryant’s death.
A few weeks earlier, at the request of Vanessa Bryant, Ionescu delivered a well-spoken, emotional tribute to Kobe and his daughter Gianna at their celebration of life.
Vanessa Bryant could have chosen any number of basketball legends to speak at the memorial. The fact that Ionescu was one of the few chosen to pay tribute to Kobe and GiGi speaks volumes of her relationship with Kobe and is a testament to his support for women’s basketball as a whole.
Ionescu remains close with the Bryant family and embodies the Mamba Mentality. She borrowed a move from Kobe’s playbook tonight, hitting a deep three at the buzzer to lift the Liberty over the Indiana Fever.
It’s the first win of the WNBA’s 25th season and the first as a pro for Ionescu after missing all but three games of her rookie season with an ankle injury.