Mamba Day: Federer, Nadal, Serena pay tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Tennis legends spoke glowingly of the five-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer ahead of his last game. (AP)

April 13 marks Mamba Day, as teammates and foes—some friendly and others not-so-huggable—send off future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant ahead of his last National Basketball Association game. Luckily, fellow athletes in the Nike stable are lending the five-time NBA champion a proper sendoff.

Roger Federer, Serena Williams. Rafael Nadal—they're all here, as are the likes of LeBron James, Rory McIlroy, Paul George, Russell Wilson, Tiger Woods and many more.

Nadal labels Kobe a "fighter" and Federer posits that he's a "winner." Not exactly rousing stuff there, but Serena gets more verbose, offering that Kobe "always played because he loved the sport, not for any other reason.” That’s something the 21-time Grand Slam champion knows a good deal about.

It's Federer who ultimately steals the show, though, finding it impossible not to invoke his love of emojis in saying, "I have once used his name as an emoji. Ko and then a bee. So it was actually quite funny."   

Yes, Fed, it's all about you. And yet his chuckle-inducing dad factor makes for the most memorable and surprising part of the entire clip. That's hard to do when you're in such, ahem, personality-laden company. (Here's looking at you, Richard Sherman.)

So Federer beckoned people to laugh at his joke, a joke that played out on Twitter months ago. That doesn't mean that Fed's not making new memories on his social medium of choice, though, as evidenced by the fast one he pulled on Andy Murray at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Launch Party this past weekend:

Federer, the King of Slumber, good-naturedly admonished Murray. The tennis world waits with bated breath to see if the Swiss Master, who holds a 14-11 career edge over the Brit, might face him again in his highly-anticipated return to match play in Monaco.

For now, though, pour one out for Kobe, a 37-year-old basketball titan with an Italian flair, a grand trophy haul in his sport of choice and a lifetime of memories. Happy #MambaDay, indeed.

Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9

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