What Ronaldinho Told Kobe Bryant About a Young Lionel Messi

Published 08/24/2021, 11:41 AM EDT
January 19, 2011: Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant #24 finished with 21 points in an NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated Los Angeles 109-100 (Photo by Albert Pena/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


It is fairly common for athletes from different sports to be close friends with one another. Their love for sports unites them, and one such friendship existed between icons, Kobe Bryant and Ronaldinho. Both considered the best in their respective sports shared a great bond.

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During one of Barcelona’s pre-season tours to USA, the two superstars met. Then Ronaldinho told the ‘Mamba’ that he wanted him to meet someone. However, the praise that he gave the young boy shocked Bryant completely.

WATCH THIS STORY: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Other NBA Stars in Their Childhood

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Ronaldinho believed Messi would be the best

Ronaldinho introduced Bryant to a 17 YO Lionel Messi, a boy he believed would go on to become the greatest footballer of all time. This shocked Kobe, who believed the Brazilian was as good as it was ever going to get.

SAN ANTONIO – MAY 7: (FILE PHOTO) Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers bites his jersey in Game two of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at SBC Center on May 7, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas. Bryant was released on bail by the Eagle County Sheriff’s office in Colorado July 6, 2003 after posting a $25,000 bond on a felony count of sexual assault. (Photo by: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Bryant remembered this incident, saying, “Ronaldinho, who was a good friend, I was talking with him and he told me: ‘Kobe, look I’m going to introduce you to the guy who is going to be the greatest player of all time.

“I said, ‘You what? You are the best. But he said: ‘No, no. This kid right here is going to be the best.’ And that guy was Lionel Messi, who was only 17.”

Ronaldinho knew what he was talking about, as has now Messi has become one of the most celebrated athletes to ever live. He became synonymous with Barcelona, just like Bryant is with the Lakers. Unfortunately, due to financial troubles, Barcelona had to let go of Messi this season.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd after passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list with a free throw in the second quarter of the game on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

However, Bryant and Messi crossed paths once again in 2013.

Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi

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In 2013, the two athletes appeared in a Turkish Airlines commercial. Since then, they have been good friends as well.

Bryant, who grew up in Italy loves the sport of football. He has spoken about football many times. When it came to Messi, the Lakers’ legend said, “He’s one of the greatest athletes of all time – his tenacity, intelligence with which he plays as well as his skill. It just puts him head and shoulders above the rest.”

PARIS, FRANCE – AUGUST 13: Lionel Messi warms up during a Paris Saint-Germain training session at Ooredoo Center on August 13, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images)

After the tragic passing of Kobe, Messi even dedicated an Instagram post to honor the Hall of Famer. Their mutual respect for each other was great to see. Messi will now add to his already stacked legacy as he suits up to play for Paris next season.

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Anuj Talwalkar

272 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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