Novak Djokovic had the Australian Open trophy in his hands for the eighth time, and his thoughts turned to Kobe Bryant.
The Los Angeles Lakers great, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles the weekend before Djokovic’s win over Dominic Thiem in the championship match at Melbourne Park.
Wearing a green jacket with the letters KB and the numbers 8 and 24 emblazoned on the chest, Djokovic reflected on “some devastating things that started 2020.“
“With huge bush fires here in Australia. Conflicts in some parts of the world — people dying every day. Obviously one person that I considered close in my life, and who was a mentor to me, Kobe Bryant, passed away as well with his daughter,” Djokovic told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena. “I would just like to … say that this is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together more than ever. Be with our families. Stay close to the people that love you, that care about you.”
Winning isn’t everything.
“Of course we’re part of professional sport. We compete. We try out best but obviously there are more important things in life,” he said. “And it’s important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you.”