Kobe Bryant's death leaves NBA players, others in shock
NBA legend died in a helicopter crash on Sunday along with his 13-year-old daughter
Kobe Bryant authored some of his most memorable moments at Madison Square Garden and made himself a centrepiece of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
"We laughed and joked about the Mamba mentality. We're all going to need it right now," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said through tears before his team played in Orlando.
Madison Square Garden was lit up in the Lakers' gold and purple colours for the game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Nets star Kyrie Irving didn't play, leaving the arena after hearing of Bryant's death.
The 18-time All-Star made his first All-Star appearance at MSG in 1998, a passing of the torch game in which Michael Jordan played for the final time as a member of the Chicago Bulls. Bryant later set the scoring record at the current arena when he scored 61 points in 2009, a mark that was later bettered by Carmelo Anthony.
Bryant played twice against Rivers and the Celtics for the championship, with Boston winning in 2008 and the Lakers taking the 2010 title, when Bryant was the MVP.
"We always liked to reminisce. We would always laugh at our versions of our losses," Rivers said. "You know, when we beat them in 2008, he had his version. And when they beat us in 2010, I had my version, and then we would laugh at how different we looked at the games."
Beyond devastated... my big brother... I can’t, I just can’t believe it—@paugasol
The Lakers and Celtics already had the NBA's most famous rivalry, but it had been dormant since the heydays of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird before Bryant helped lead its resumption.
Johnson, just days after giving an emotional speech during a memorial service for former NBA Commissioner David Stern, was devastated again after Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among those killed in Southern California.
Laker Nation, the game of basketball & our city, will never be the same without Kobe. Cookie & I are praying for Vanessa, his beautiful daughters Natalia, Bianka & Capri, as well as his parents Joe & Pam & his sisters. We will always be here for the Bryant family. <a href="https://t.co/WWxmtEAJqZ">pic.twitter.com/WWxmtEAJqZ</a>—@MagicJohnson
Bryant also helped the U.S. win Olympic titles in 2008 and 2012, after the Americans had been shut out of gold medals in major international basketball competitions since 2000.
"He was in constant pursuit of doing something special and there will never be a greater warrior in our sport," said Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Bryant on those teams after trying to recruit him to Duke.
Players around the NBA honoured Bryant by holding the ball for 24 seconds — one of his jersey numbers — for a 24-second shot clock violation at the start of games. Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young, who usually wears No. 11, wore Bryant's other number Sunday night, No. 8, in Atlanta's game against the Wizards.
WATCH | Raptors and Spurs hold 24-second tributes to Kobe Bryant:
Philadelphia 76ers centre Joe Embiid said that he started playing basketball after watching Bryant in the 2010 NBA Finals.
Man I don’t even know where to start😭😭 I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! <br><br>RIP LEGEND—@JoelEmbiid
Tiger Woods was told of Kobe Bryant's passing by his caddie Joey LaCava coming off the 18th green at Torrey Pines on Sunday at the Farmer's Insurance Open.
"Joey just told me coming off 18th green," Woods told CBS. "I didn't understand why the people in the gallery were saying, `Do it for Mamba.' But now I understand. It's a shocker to everyone. Unbelievably sad and one of the more tragic days."
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. <a href="https://t.co/9EZuwk8wrV">pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV</a>—@kaj33
Syracuse University men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim previously worked with Bryant with Team USA.
Kobe Bryant was not only one of the greatest basketball players ever, he was also the hardest working player I’ve ever been around. I was so fortunate to have known him and coached him with Team USA. Our thoughts and our prayers are with his wife, Vanessa, and the Bryant family.—@therealboeheim
Bryant's death reverberated beyond sports. In 2018, he won an Academy Award in the animated short film category.
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom issued a statement regarding about Bryant that read:
"We mourn the tragic and untimely death of a California icon and basketball legend, Kobe Bryant. In his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he made history with raw talent and unparalleled dedication that raised the bar and paved the way for a newer generation of players."