Soccer star Neymar Jr. names his favorite NBA athletes of all time: ‘Kobe was a player that I used to watch’

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Brazilian superstar Neymar has always been a huge fan of the NBA, as he’s also made many friendships in the league. One of his closest basketball relationships is with Miami Heat foward Jimmy Butler, who he admitted to have been supporting during the recent NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets.

The player was interviewed by NBA Brasil this week, as he shared how the two of them became such close friends in recent years.

“We first met because he made a video playing football in Brazil’s uniform. We started messaging each other on Instagram. He soon went to Paris and we met there,” he recalled. “Then, he went to my house in Rio [de Janeiro], and we became even closer.

“We’re in close contact now. I love him, he’s such a nice guy not only to me but to everyone around him. I admire him a lot not only on the court but off the court as well. This friendship is special.”

Check out the soccer icon’s full interview with NBA Brasil, as he shares who are his favorite basketball players of all time:

As the soccer athlete plays for Paris Saint Germain in France, he admitted that he’s not always able to watch the NBA matches due to the time difference, even though he considers himself a fan of the league.

“I don’t watch the games a lot because they’re very late, it’s very tough to watch them live. I watch some games the next day though. I used to watch a lot more when Thiago Silva was playing in PSG,” he said about his former Brazilian teammate. “We’d watch the highlights together. I’m a fan of the sport and these athletes.”

Fortunately for Neymar, he’s been able to meet most of his NBA idols during commercial shoots or even after matches, as he’s been seen enjoying the league from the sidelines in many occasions throughout the years.

Neymar Jr. included his friend Jimmy Butler in the list of his top 5 favorite basketball players of all time

Neymar says that he’s been a basketball fan since he was very young, but there are two players he especially thought as true inspirations when he was starting out as a kid.

“I grew up listening to people talking about Jordan. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to see him play. A player that inspired me, though, was Kobe Bryant,” he shared. “Kobe was a player that I used to watch, and he played for the most famous team. I don’t support any single team, I support the teams of my friends.”

When asked to name his Top 5 NBA players of all time, he mentioned the former Chicago Bulls legend first.

“Jordan, Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron, Curry, and Jimmy. Jimmy needs to be on it because he’s making history,” Neymar laughed, as he hesitated before answering.

However, he admits that even though he’s met many of them during his spell as a global phenomenon, he still feels intimidated by some.

“I’ve already met many of them. Curry is an idol, LeBron, Jordan – I’ve had an opportunity to collab with them. They’re amazing, idols, legends, and it’s very special to have this contact with them,” Neymar said. “It’s scary.”