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Kobe Bryant stirs up excitement with appearance at Patriots' OTAs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots returned to work Wednesday for their fourth voluntary organized team activity, and they were greeted by a celebrity guest from a different sport: Kobe Bryant.

Bryant's presence excited several players, some of whom posted pictures of themselves with Bryant on social media. Said one player of Bryant's presence, "Just hanging out and dropping some knowledge."

Bless to learn from a legend #blackmambašŸ

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Bryant announced this week that his book "The Mamba Mentality: How I Play" will be released in October. As part of his visit with the Patriots on Wednesday, Bryant was at the team's practice and spent time in the team meeting room.

"I have a ton of respect for Kobe. Obviously a great player, had a great career. Spent the day with him yesterday. He had a lot of great observations and things we could learn from. He's a tremendous guy," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Thursday.

It is commonplace for the Patriots to welcome visitors from other sports to their practices, as last year they hosted Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and Georgia men's basketball coach Tom Crean, among others.

As for Bryant, he has long been admired by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who hasn't been present at the team's voluntary workouts this year. In 2012, Brady explained how he first met Bryant when the Los Angeles Lakers played in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Celtics. The Lakers won the series 4-3, and Bryant was the MVP.

"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 at the time. "You look up to them and admire what it takes day in and day out to be a great player."

Brady is expected to be at the Patriots' mandatory minicamp June 5-7, according to owner Robert Kraft.