PEORIA, Ariz. — It was hours before Game 4 of the 2018 World Series. Los Angeles Dodgers star Manny Machado was in the weight room at Dodger Stadium, prepping for one of the biggest moments of his life. But in an instant, all that was put on hold. Kobe Bryant, Machado’s idol, was in the nearby locker room, waiting to meet L.A.’s shortstop — while wearing a Machado Dodgers jersey.
You wouldn’t think a major league star would get nervous meeting another pro athlete. After all, Machado has been in the spotlight since he was a teenager, when he was drafted third overall by the Baltimore Orioles.
But this was different, an opportunity to come face-to-face with his idol. For as long as he could remember, Machado had loved everything about Lakers great Kobe Bryant, and in his telling of the story, the baseball star sounded as nervous as a 10-year-old boy.
“I’m working out,” recalled Machado, now with the San Diego Padres. “I’m in the weight room getting ready for Game 4. And they come up to me and say, ‘Hey, Kobe’s here. He’s in the locker room.’ I’m like, should I stop what I’m doing? Or should I go say something to my favorite athlete of all time? I didn’t know what to do.”