As you may know now, Los Angeles Lakers star, basketball legend, Kobe Bryant has passed away earlier today in a helicopter crash. No one survived the crash. It has been reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Bryant was in a helicopter traveling with his daughter, Gianna Bryant and a teammate and her father to a basketball game.
Sources: Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 26, 2020
First I want to say my deepest condolences to the families involved in this big tragedy that happened in Calabasas. I am praying for Bryant’s family but the whole NBA community that has taken the courage to even play today under these circumstances.
Next, me and my fellow intern Chandler Wilcox wanted to write this today and talk about how much Kobe meant to us but the impact Kobe had on the game we all love.
First, if you don’t really watch the NBA, Kobe Bryant played 20 years in the NBA with one team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant played at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania and was then drafted right out of high school and into the NBA. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and by the end of draft night, Bryant was a Laker. In his career he collected a lot of awards on the court. Notably, winning 5 NBA Championships, second most NBA All-Star appearances with 18 by a Laker behind Kareem Adbul-Jabbar. Bryant was also the 1997 NBA Dunk Champion, his rookie season. He also played for Team USA many occasions and collected 3 gold medals in total for Team USA. 2 Olympic Golds in 2008 and 2012 and one FIBA Americas Championship. Bryant is also notorious for scoring 81 points in a game. Second most ever scored behind Wilt’s 100.
After retiring and leaving the Staples Center for the last time as a player and dropping 60 points on the Utah Jazz, he went to being what he does best. Tells stories. Kobe was an avid person who searched for stories and narratives. He treated the game like that as well. Bryant won an Oscar for his mini film about his letter to Basketball. The name of the film was “Dear Basketball.” The film was first aired when the Lakers retired not one but both his numbers he wore in his 20 years as a Laker. Here is the film
(I have not watched it since his passing earlier today and I don’t think I can yet.)
Bryant was a once in a lifetime generational player. Before him, there was Magic and Bird, Michael Jordan, then right after that, Bryant soared through the spotlight Los Angeles offered him and he exceeded all expectations. Bryant was mentored by the best and for my generation, he became the mentor to a lot of players that now play the game on the same courts he made history on. That Mamba Mentality. Nothing better.
Yesterday, I was really bored as it was a Saturday, I watched a documentary on Hulu named, “More than a Game.” In that doc, a team followed the St. Vincent St Mary High School team in the early 2000s. LeBron James was a player on that roster. In a clip in the documentary, LeBron goes to his old house and goes around his old room and points out all the legends he had on his wall. He named a lot of all-stars on his wall when he was growing up but three had the majority of the space. One was Allen Iverson, the other was Michael Jordan, the last one was Kobe. That should tell you all you need to know in what he meant to the league and to the players.
I am writing this in my room and watching the NBA games and let me tell you, these players are not the same right now. I just saw a clip of Trae Young in his mom’s arms in tears with his Hawks warmups on wearing Kobe’s old number, 8.
Trae Young went over to his mother after pregame warmups.
Trae worked out with Kobe leading up to this season. pic.twitter.com/Gp11JgLjwM
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 26, 2020
It also has been reported that Brooklyn Nets guard and a close friend to Kobe, Kyrie Irving walked out of Madison Square Garden when he heard the news. He didn’t play tonight for the Nets. Bryant and Irving shared an impeccable bond as Irving has climbed the ranks in the NBA as one of the best guards in the league.
Here’s Irving and Bryant together in Vegas for a Team USA camp.
Irving isn’t the only player to be mentored by Bryant. Players adored 24. Here are some messages from former teammates of Kobe and people who knew him and how he meant to a lot of people in the NBA community.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant was a PHENOMENAL basketball player, a stellar AMBASSADOR of the game. I loved to hear him talk basketball. Kevin admired him and his work ethic. His daughter Gianna was an angel. They will be TRULY MISSED. #ripkobe💔 @KobeBryantWorld RIPGianna #PRAYINGFORBRYANTFAMILY pic.twitter.com/Vs8DsTJas7
— Wanda Durant (@MamaDurant) January 26, 2020
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Beyond devastated… my big brother… I can’t, I just can’t believe it
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 26, 2020
Michael Jordan on death of Kobe Bryant: “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me.” pic.twitter.com/r8JNMjfuRR
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 26, 2020
Lastly, here is a message from great NBA player and Laker legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
Before I go to my personal message, last night was an historic night. LeBron James passed Kobe on scoring list in NBA history. James did that in Kobe’s home state and the city he loved the most, Philadelphia. The Lakers just arrived to LA and this was the scene when LeBron heard word of the news of his passing.
Kobe’s last tweet was also about the King when he passed him.
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Like I said in the beginning, Chandler and I are going to tell you how Kobe meant to us.
First I want to say, to the people that know me. You know how big of a basketball fan I am. It’s an escape in a world filled with trials and tribulation.
When, I heard the news I was in shock. I still am. I was numb, shaking and tears were running down my cheek. I have never met him before, only on a television screen.
For the NBA and basketball in general, Kobe was one of my first experiences with the game. I fell in love with the game late in my childhood. How did I find the game? Watching Kobe and the Lakers playing the Boston Celtics in the Finals for his last two championships. As Rondo is from my high school, I cheered on the Celtics. However, Kobe caught my heart to this game like I never felt before. Kobe made the game look easy. His fluidity on the court made the game not just a game but a painting. Every time he stepped on the floor he was painting the next Van Gough painting. It was an artwork for him, that’s how I fell in love with the game. Kobe was a pivotal role in that. From that season on, I wanted to learn more about basketball. Kobe did that. I was invested in a sport that no one introduced to me except a video game. Kobe did that. To me, Kobe was my Michael Jordan. My icon and the player I will never forget.
As I sit here today by watching the NBA, I am in tears. I haven’t stopped thinking about the moments I remember watching him when I was in middle school. I haven’t stopped thinking of the moments I got to witness from afar. The jersey retirement, the 60-point game, the Olympic Gold Medals and the NBA championships.
Kobe, you brought me to this game and I can never repay what you have done for me, and to the person who I am today. 24, you were not just another basketball player, you were the NBA to me for many years.
RIP Kobe Bryant. I will never forget you and I say goodbye for now and hope that some day I get to meet you in heaven and tell you face to face how much you meant to me. Love you 24, you are really missed.
I never was a huge fan of Kobe Bryant. I actually grew up on the other side in the NBA — the Boston Celtics — who had Paul Pierce (my favorite NBA player ever) along with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and a few others. Of course, with the historic Celtics/Lakers rivalry, it was going to be hard to cheer for the Lakers no matter who was there.
In 2008, Boston got the better of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA Finals, defeating them 4-2 in the series. Two years later though, LA got pay back, and Kobe won his last of five rings with a 4-3 series victory over the Boston Celtics.
With that said, nobody could ever deny Kobe Bryant’s brilliance, and I always appreciated the dedication he brought to the game, and how human he was off the court.
You had to respect his “mamba mentality”, which was what his way of approaching basketball was called. He brought excellent hard work, charisma, and of course a little bit of trash talk too, earningly. Even if you did not want to respect it, you had to, because either way he was going to put your team’s player behind his back and then turn around and pull up with an automatic jumper.
After Kobe hit the jumper, he would talk to whoever was guarding him right back down to the other side of the court, and deservedly so, because it was hardly possible to stop him from scoring.
Not only that, but he was a great defender, being on the all-NBA defensive first team nine times throughout his career (won MVP in 2008), and it was because of his hard-work and dedication that he was able to be as accomplished as he was.
Even after tearing his achilles in a game against the Golden State Warriors in 2013, he still shot his awarded two free-throw shots, and made them both before having to go out of the game, showing his great fight.
Kobe was not just a great and hard-working basketball player, but always seemed to be a genuine person too who appreciated his fans and the game.
It’s been said by many people that you die twice, once yourself, and then next your name and the memories people have of you, but I am positive that Kobe Bryant’s name and the memories we have of him will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, 8/24.
To close this post out, we both want to say our deepest condolences in this tragic situation. Today is a day of remembrance, a day of mourning as we have lost one of the biggest members of the basketball community. If you didn’t know a whole lot about Kobe in his career, go to YouTube. You won’t regret seeing what this man did in his team on this earth. Rest easy Mamba, basketball will never be the same.