NEW YORK- Novak Djokovic I couldn’t think of the number 24 without remembering the deceased Kobe Bryant.
After Sunday’s victory in the US Open To reach a historic 24 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic donned a blue jersey in honor of the Los Angeles Lakers star.
The shirt had the legend “Mamba Forever” on the front along with a photograph of Bryant and Djokovic. Behind, in purple, was the number 24, one of the two numbers that Bryant wore in a career that took him to the Hall of Fame.
Djokovic said he came up with the idea a week ago, as a way to honor his friend. He indicated that Bryant advised him on his own career. Kobe Bryant died in 2020 in a helicopter accident in which his daughter Gianna and seven other people also died.
“Kobe was a close friend, we talked often about the winning mentality when I was having problems with injuries and trying to come back, get back to the top of my game,” Djokovic acknowledged. “He was one of the people I trusted the most.”
“He was always there to give me advice and any kind of support in the most friendly way,” Djokovic continued. “Then what happened a few years ago with his death and that of his daughter hurt me a lot and I thought that the shirt with 24 was the number he wore to become a legend with the Lakers and in the world of basketball, so I thought “That would be nice, a symbolic way to recognize him for everything he did.”