HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — If only a shot of Black Mamba diplomacy could bring peace to so many suffering people in the many hot spots of the Middle East. Kobe Bryant won’t solve Syria, but he will make a late September visit to the region.
Bryant will be in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, on Thursday to headline a fitness weekend to raise awareness for diabetes. The trip comes as Bryant continues to rehab from Achilles surgery and just days before his Los Angeles Lakers open training camp. In a phone interview with a reporter from the Gulf News, the region’s leading English-language newspaper, Bryant reiterated that his rehab remains ahead of schedule but that he can’t be certain he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener on Oct. 29:
“I’m feeling pretty good. I’m a lot stronger now than probably what I was a week ago. I’m getting stronger and stronger by the day and that’s a great feeling. I’m ahead of my schedule, and when the season comes around we will know where we are. I don’t know whether that means I will start the season. I hope so.”
Bryant is just one of the world’s great athletes to visit the Middle East, joining the likes of Muhammad Ali, Pele, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.
“It means a lot to me. The NBA and basketball has really grown so much and become such a huge global sport. When I started playing, things were so different. But now I find that I can be an agent to affect positive change in the sport and in the lives of people through the sport I play. And that excites me. So I take this visit, or any other visit to any other country, as a great honor for myself.”
The rest of Bryant’s interview with the Gulf News is here.