LOOK: Kobe Bryant’s 1998 visit to Malacañang, meeting with ex-president Estrada
MANILA, Philippines—Kobe Bryant was arguably one of the most loved NBA players in the basketball-crazy Philippines. Throughout his stellar 20-year career in the NBA, he has frequently visited Manila and showed he has a soft spot for the legion of his Filipino fans.
The former Los Angeles Lakers guard first flew to Manila in 1998, just two years after he was drafted in the NBA. The Black Mamba, who was just about to turn 20 years old during that year, visited Malacañang and met with former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada during a goodwill visit.
In a digitized video released by the Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) on Monday evening, Bryant met with Philippine government officials in the Palace and gamely struck a goofy pose with the former president on Aug. 14, 1998.
— Darryl John Esguerra (@DJEsguerraINQ) January 27, 2020
Bryant returned to Manila in September 2007, in July 2009, in July and August 2011, August 2013 and lastly in June 2016, just months after he retired from the NBA.
He left NBA with five championship rings, two Finals MVP award, an NBA Season MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star appearances, and two Olympic gold medals. His 33,643 career points kept him in third place on the all-time list until LeBron James, the Lakers’ current superstar, passed him on Saturday.
Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash on Monday morning (Manila time) along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others on board. He is survived by his wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.