Atlanta zoo names black mamba after Kobe Bryant

NBA null null Basketball

The Atlanta Zoo and the Hawks have decided to honor Kobe Bryant in a big way in his last season with the NBA. Beginning Friday, a black mamba at the zoo will be named "Kobe" in honor of the lifelong Laker.

“Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to be part of this very special tribute," president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta Raymond B. King said in a statement. “Mr. Bryant is a legend on the court, and the black mamba is a legend in the wild. We’re proud to partner with our home team, the Atlanta Hawks, on recognizing Mr. Bryant’s contributions to sports with the naming of this animal, and we hope everyone will visit Scaly Slimy Spectacular, our newest destination at Zoo Atlanta, to see the new namesake in person.”

MORE: Bryant's final season and retirement tour, in photos | 11 most meaningful road stops left for Kobe

Bryant, whose self-given nickname is "Black Mamba," announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. The Hawks and the zoo came together to commemorate his career, with the Hawks making a donation to the zoo for Bryant.

“Kobe Bryant’s career accomplishments speak for themselves,” said Hawks CEO Steve Koonin in a statement. “He has set a standard with his incredible work ethic, tremendous will and competitive spirit. We’re happy to be partnering with Zoo Atlanta to recognize the impact Kobe has made on the NBA and its popularity worldwide.”

When the Lakers visit Atlanta to take

on the Hawks on Friday, the home team will also play a video tribute to Bryant for his 20 years in the NBA.