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Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant arrived in Istanbul on Sunday to a number of sports-related activities across the city.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant arrived in İstanbul on Sunday to a number of sports-related activities across the city.
Kobe's first stop was the neighborhood of Caddebostan, where he inaugurated two basketball courts renovated by the star's sponsor Nike and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. An enthusiastic crowd turned out to see the basketball star.
Following the opening ceremony Kobe commented that he had found Istanbul to be much more beautiful than he was told. He also said the love of basketball by young people in Istanbul makes him very happy.
Responding to a reporter's question, Kobe said he is still considering an offer from the Beşiktaş basketball team.
Kobe also praised NBA's Turkish stars Hidayet Türkoğlu and Mehmet Okur. He also mentioned that he follows Spanish side FC Barcelona in football, calling Lionel Messi the best football player in the world.
He later met with his fans on Istanbul's Istiklal Street. Addressing a large crowd that came to see him on a raised platform in front of a Nike store, the 33-year-old said this was his first visit to Istanbul but would not be his last.
The next stop for Kobe was the final of a Nike tournament for amateur basketball players. He was accompanied by Turkish star Enes Kanter, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the 2011 NBA draft.
In the evening, Kobe visited the Galatasaray football team at Türk Telekom Arena during their training session ahead of Tuesday's league game against Eskişehirspor. Speaking to GSTV, the Istanbul team's TV station, Kobe said he was honored to be welcomed at Galatasaray's facilities and added that Galatasaray had won another fan. Kobe was gifted a Galatasaray jersey. In an interview with the Anatolia news agency, the star basketball player said Galatasaray's stadium was one of the best football stadiums he had ever seen.