Novak Djokovic honors Kobe Bryant wearing “Mamba forever” shirt after US Open 2023 win

Novak Djokovic made history with a recent victory at the US Open. Djokovic’s win over Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final on Sunday gave him his 24th Grand Slam title, tying him with Margaret Court for the most significant singles titles ever.

While celebrating his title, Djokovic paid a touching tribute by wearing a ‘Mamba Forever’ shirt and in honor of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. This demonstrates sports’ unity and friendship, highlighting the strong bond between Djokovic and Bryant.

Novak Djokovic celebrates his 24th grand slam wearing Kobe Bryant “Mamba forever” shirt

Novak Djokovic, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, captured the audiences’ attention after winning the US Open men’s singles final Sunday night, as he pulled a T-shirt out of his bag and put it on. The T-Shirt said, “Mamba Forever”, which is a reference to late LA Lakers’ legend Kobe Bryant’s never giving up mentality.

The Jersey front featured the words “Mamba forever” with a picture of him and Bryant in between. On the back, there was a large ’24’ printed in purple, and Djokovic proudly pointed to it in celebration of his historic victory.

“We chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality,” he said, fondly remembering his encounters with Kobe Bryant.

“He was one of the people that I relied on the most. He was always there for any kind of counsel, advice, any kind of support in a most friendly way.”, Djokovic continued.

Novak Djokovic explained that he got the idea for this tribute when he realized he was close to winning his 24th Grand Slam singles title. The number ‘24’ had a special connection to Kobe Bryant’s legendary career who wore the iconic number. So, after winning the US Open semi-final, he decided to get the shirt made for the big day, and he finally got the opportunity to create the beautiful moment.

Regarding the inspiration behind his move Djokovic explained, “I thought 24 is the jersey that he wore when he became a legend of Lakers and world basketball. So I thought it would be a nice symbolic thing to acknowledge him.”

Are Kobe Bryant and Novak Djokovic friends?

When Novak Djokovic stepped up for the on-court interview, the Serbian was asked about the ‘Mamba mentality‘ and the lessons he’d taken from Kobe Bryant. First, he fondly remembered the late Kobe Bryant and shared how close they had been.

“He was a mentor and a friend”, Djokovic said.

“We chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality. When I was struggling with injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game, he was one of the people I relied on the most”. 

Interestingly, Djokovic and Bryant’s friendship has a long history. They openly admired each other. Djokovic referred to Bryant as his friend and mentor, and the late basketball player chose Djokovic over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer before the 2019 US Open. Since Bryant’s passing in 2020, Djokovic has consistently expressed his gratitude to the legendary player. The 36-year-old had also paid tribute to Bryant after winning the 2023 French Open title. 

Share your thoughts on this heartwarming tribute from Djokovic and his beautiful friendship with the late Lakers legend in the comments.

SZ Desk

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