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Sabrina Ionescu Reflects on Kobe Bryant Friendship in Instagram Post

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Sabrina Ionescu speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

After the New York Liberty selected Sabrina Ionescu No. 1 overall in the 2020 WNBA draft on Friday, she posted a tribute to late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Ionescu took to Instagram to share a photo of herself working with Kobe on the court:

Def Pen Hoops @DefPenHoops

Sabrina reflects on her friendship with Kobe after going #1 💜💛 (📸 via @sabrina_i20 / IG) https://t.co/UY2poiuvG3

The caption read: "I know you're looking down on me smiling. We did it. I got drafted #1. More work to do. Love and miss you."

Bryant became Ionescu's mentor while she was starring collegiately at Oregon, as he often gave her advice on basketball and life. They grew so close, in fact, that Ionescu spoke at the memorial held for Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, that was held at Staples Center in Los Angeles in February.

Kobe and Gianna were two of the nine people who died on Jan. 26 when the helicopter that was carrying them to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, crashed in Calabasas.

Both Kobe and Gianna were honored before the start of the WNBA draft. Also, Gianna and her two late teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, were named honorary selections in the 2020 WNBA draft.

Ionescu was named the Naismith College Player of the Year in 2020, and she became the first player in major women's college basketball to register 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in their career.

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After dominating in college, Ionescu is poised to become one of the greatest players in WNBA history, just as Kobe was one of the best to ever play in the NBA.    

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