WNBA players pay tribute to Kobe Bryant on his birthday

Sunday would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday, and players around the WNBA were among many who paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend on social media.

Bryant died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash that killed nine people, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Many WNBA stars — including Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu, Jewell Loyd and Arike Ogunbowale — have said they idolized Bryant growing up and later were influenced personally by him and considered him a friend and mentor. Kobe and Gianna Bryant often attended women’s college basketball and WNBA games. Bryant was considered a huge advocate for the WNBA and women’s basketball, and many WNBA players saw themselves in Gianna Bryant.

The sports world will continue to honor Bryant on Monday, Aug. 24 — or 8/24, which represents the two jersey numbers Bryant wore during his 20-year NBA career. And Nike is launching “Mamba Week.”

The WNBA got a jump start celebrating Bryant’s birthday on Saturday. His jersey hung courtside and players — including MVP front-runner Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm — wore bracelets that featured the initials and jersey numbers of both Kobe and Gianna.

A moment of silence was also observed before each of the day’s games.

Las Vegas Aces guard Kayla McBride wore these Kobe-inspired kicks throughout the week.

On Sunday, birthday wishes and remembrances flooded Twitter.

Most WNBA teams around the league tweeted out a tribute to Bryant, and players arrived for their games in sweatshirts honoring Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

White Mamba on Black Mamba

Kobe Bryant was a fan of Taurasi’s game, even calling her White Mamba. Taurasi, who also spoke at Bryant’s memorial in January, breaks down Kobe’s 65-point game in 2007 against the Portland Trail Blazers for Detail on ESPN+.

From one Hall of Famer to another

Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. That group also includes Tamika Catchings.

Other Naismith Hall of Famers also chimed in.

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