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The world is mourning following the tragic death today of Kobe Bryant. The winner of five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and two Olympic gold medals with Team USA died at the age of 41 on Sunday in a helicopter accident Calabasas, California.
The news has come as s huge shock to everyone connected to FC Barcelona. Bryant, one of the greatest players ever to grace the game of basketball, was deeply admired by all, but the player was also an admirer of the football team. He was a frequent visitor to the club when in Europe or when the football team was on tour in the US.
Games in Los Angeles and Barcelona
Barça first faced the Lakers and Kobe Bryant on 18 October 2008 at the Staples Center, the NBA side winning 108-104. Two years later, on 7 October 2010, the Lakers repaid the visit by coming to the Palau Sant Jordi, where Barça would come out winners, 92-88.
Last meeting in 2017
But the relationship meant more than those two friendly encounters. Bryant met the team in Los Angeles during the US tour of 2006, and a few months later was a guest at a training session in the Catalan capital.
There were similar scenes in 2011, when Bryant stopped by the Barça hotel during the US tour. That was in Washington, where he also took part in a charity exhibition game with the friends of Mia Hamm.
In the summer of 2015, shortly after Luis Enrique had led the team to the treble, Kobe again visited the team on an American tour. And there was another encounter in 2017 in Haikou (China), when the Lakers star was there to announce the NBA’s agreement with Mission Hills to host a museum and store, tied to the agreement between Barça and Mission Hills.
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