The clip, which Osaka shared to her Twitter account, showed her and Bryant trading shots on a tennis court until the famously competitive NBA star’s hit bounced the ball into the net.
“He wasn’t THAT bad at tennis,” Osaka joked in the tweet, before adding a series of emojis. “Haha love you bro.”
The 22-year-old tennis star was referencing comments made by Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka, who spoke during a Celebration of Life held for Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, at Staples Center on Monday.
During his address, Pelinka — who was Bryant’s longtime agent and godfather to Gianna — revealed he and the NBA star would sometimes play tennis together. During their first few matches, Pelinka would outplay the five-time NBA champion.
But Bryant wouldn’t allow that for too long.
“So what is the Black Mamba doing the next few times I arrived at the club? There he was waiting for me already with a full sweat,” Pelinka said.
He wasn’t THAT bad at tennis 🙊😩💜💛 haha love you bro. pic.twitter.com/xn1QgFBfsH— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) February 24, 2020
“As his tennis skills exploded, I learned that he had secretly reached out to the club’s pro for private lessons and then didn’t share any of them with me,” he continued. “Typical Mamba mentality. We loved our matches and stories and memories we would share on those beautiful California days.”
After news surfaced of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, Gianna, and seven others, Osaka posted an emotional letter to the NBA legend.
“Hey … I don’t really know what to do so I’m writing you this letter,” Osaka wrote. “Thank you for being you. Thank you for inspiring people everywhere, you have no idea how many hearts you’ve touched. Thank you for being so humble and not acting as big as you are.”
“Thank you for caring and checking up on me after my hard losses,” Osaka said. “Thank you for randomly texting me ‘You ok?’, cause you know how f—-d up my head is sometimes. Thank you for teaching me so much in the short time I’ve been lucky enough to have known you. “
“Thank you for existing,” she continued. “You will forever be my big bro/mentor/inspiration. Love you.”