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Mamba message: Kobe Bryant visits Patriots practice and players

New England Patriots players got a surprise when they were at the team’s facility on Wednesday for the day’s OTA session: Kobe Bryant was visiting.

The retired Los Angeles Lakers legend watched practice and talked with players in their meeting room.

‘Dropping some knowledge’

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss wrote that one player said Bryant was “just hanging out and dropping some knowledge.”

Bryant won five NBA championships during his 21-year career, the same number of Super Bowls the Patriots have won during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, right, visited the New England Patriots facility on Wednesday. Here he posed with cornerback Stephon Gilmore. (Gilmore/Instagram)

Several players posted selfies with Bryant on social media; though he’s not quite 40-years-old, many current players grew up watching the 18-time NBA All-Star or playing video games as Bryant or his Lakers.

One wonders if it was a little awkward for Bryant, who grew up just outside Philadelphia and is an Eagles fan.

Bryant is far from the first non-football sports star Belichick has welcomed: last year the team had Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens at practice, and others, like Boston College men’s hockey coach Jerry York, who has won five NCAA championships as a coach, and former Major League Baseball manager Tony LaRussa, a Belichick friend, have been guests.

Brady not present

Brady is a longtime admirer of Bryant, having first met Bryant in 2010, when the Celtics and Lakers played in the NBA Finals.

“You always watch other athletes and how they play the game and what makes them successful. You see them play the game the way you think it needs to be played,” Brady said of Bryant in 2012. “You look up to them and admire what it takes day in and day out to be a great player.”

But Brady was not at the Patriots’ facility on Wednesday; he’s yet to take part in any of the team’s voluntary offseason activities. Team owner Robert Kraft has said Brady will be at mandatory mini-camp June 5-7.

Bryant announced on Tuesday that he has a book, “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” coming out in October.

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