Moments before Paris Saint-Germain walked out of the tunnel to play Lille OSC at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, news broke that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among those killed in a helicopter crash in California.
The tragic news hit social media so close to kickoff that it was unlikely that the players knew anything about what happened. As we know, most of the PSG players are NBA fans and in 2017, Bryant visited the club’s training facilities.
PSG scored a goal in the 28th minute thanks to a brilliant strike from Neymar Jr. and went into halftime up 1-0. That’s when they likely learned about the news of what happened to Bryant, or, at least Neymar was informed.
In the 52nd minute, Neymar scored from a penalty kick to put PSG up 2-0 and he honored the NBA legend during his goal celebration.
Hommage de Ney à Kobe. pic.twitter.com/qRiDwZH9pd
— Nando Chachalana (@NandoChachalana) January 26, 2020
Once the ball hit the back of the net, Neymar solemnly walked towards the camera, held out a 2-4 with his hands (Bryant’s jersey number), and then put his hands together in prayer before pointing to the sky.
It was a classy gesture from Neymar who undoubtedly played the second half with a heavy heart with the thought of one of his idols passing away so tragically.
Neymar on Kobe Bryant's passing: "I looked at the messages at half-time. This is a time of immense sadness for the world of sport. Not just basketball fans. I knew him. This celebration was for him. I hope he rests in peace." (C+)
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) January 26, 2020
— Ecuagol (@ECUAGOL) January 26, 2020
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