Kobe Bryant is about to have a lot of free time on his hands, and Dwyane Wade has just the solution.
At a special secret dinner organized by Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, the retiring future Hall of Famer received a number of gifts, including a Netflix subscription to give himself something to do post-basketball, according to the AP
Kobe called the dinner, held Saturday night/Sunday morning, the highlight of his All-Star weekend, more than all the video tributes, glowing testimonials, standing ovations and more for the .
Bryant was publicly serenaded all weekend, and having 20,000 fans chant his name left him beaming. Having three longtime rivals quietly pay tribute meant even more.
“It was really special,” Bryant told The Associated Press on Sunday night after scoring 10 points in his last All-Star appearance, a 196-173 win for the West over the East. “Those are the things you don’t get a chance to hear when you’re competing against each other. To hear those stories now, you have such a deep sense of appreciation and such a brotherhood from all the years of competing against each other. It just felt good.”
They gave him some silly gifts. They presented him with a giant bottle of wine, a 1996 vintage in a nod to his rookie season. And they told Bryant what he meant to their lives.
The dinner, which took place in a rented-out restaurant, was apparently “secret, super-exclusive, invitation-only.” Gifts included clothes with Kobe’s logo on it but also some pretty funny retirement-themed stuff, including the Netflix account to as well as dental adhesive, reading glasses, compression socks and a cane.
You hear athletes say all the time that what matters most to them is the respect of their peers, and it’s clear Kobe has that in spades. Countless All-Stars explained this weekend how much Kobe has meant to them and their careers, and both teams gave him a standing ovation when he exited the All-Star game Saturday. This quote from Wade, via the AP, seems to roughly sum up the consensus opinion.
“Respect,” Wade said. “That’s what it was. It was about respect, ours for him and the respect he’s given us. I just wanted to tell him that his respect meant a lot, means a lot, to my career. I went down a list of moments, gave people insight on Kobe and the way he thinks. It was just appreciation, man. His drive, his competitiveness, it helped me early in my career because I wanted to be on his level.”