The passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant is shocking news that broke Sunday afternoon in a tweet from TMZ. Multiple news outlets later confirmed that Bryant (41) died in a helicopter crash in California, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and three other passengers. They were traveling on the helicopter to Gianna’s travel basketball game.
Bryant’s incredible impact on the game of basketball is felt by many across the globe. The NBA Hall of Fame inductee played his entire career (20 seasons) with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The countless number of Bryant’s former teammates, coaches, and fans around the league learned of the tragic news Sunday, a day in which eight games are slated to be played (two which are already underway).
I would doubt there’s a player in the NBA that hasn’t been impacted in one way or another by Bryant. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to go out and play today, but as of now - the Magic and Clippers are still set to play at 6:00 PM EST.
Bryant won five NBA titles, two Finals MVP awards, one regular season MVP award, and two Olympic gold medals. He is survived by his wife Vanessa and three daughters.
Coach Steve Clifford and Coach Doc Rivers on the passing of Kobe Bryant
“It’s obviously shocking and tragic. I just had a conversation with him (maybe about) three or three and half weeks ago. I don’t want to get into (what was said), but he was an incredibly brilliant man who was incredibly passionate about our game - driven. I’d have to say, it was an honor to be able to have been around him for one season.” ~ Clifford on Bryant.
“To be honest with you, I’d rather - and I think you would all agree with me on this. To me, this is a very personal thing for all of us, and I’d rather just leave it at that.” ~ Clifford when asked about any stories regarding Bryant.
“Again, like I told them. I just think that these are things that you let everyone deal with it in their own way, and that’s what I told the players. I don't think it’s stuff that we need to sit here ans share. It just happened, it’s tragic - and again, I’d rather just leave it there.” ~ Clifford on his players coping with the news.
“I don’t know, I just don't have a lot to say. The news is just devastating for everybody who knew him for a long time. He means a lot to me obviously, he was such a great opponent. You know, it’s what you want in sports. He had that DNA that very few athletes could ever have (the Tiger Woods, the Michael Jordan). You know (it’s funny), I was getting to know him more since he retired. Yeah, this is a tough one. We have to go play. The news is so devastating for Vanessa and his family, There are just so many people that he touched. And looking at my young players, and seeing how emotional they are - they didn't even know him. It just tells you how far his reach was. Just shocking news for all of us, sorry I don’t have a lot to say. Just that, I have to go talk to a team before a game and tell them to play a game.” ~ Rivers on Bryant and the difficulty of playing a game after hearing the news.
“It was great, we were at a function about three or four weeks ago and we sat and talked for probably forty-five minutes. We always liked to reminisce, we would always laugh at our (own) versions of our losses. When we beat them in 2008, he had his version, when they beat us in 2010 I had my version. We would laugh at how different we would look at the games. This is a great loss for the league. I thought he had so much more to do, and he was starting to do it. I’ve never seen him happier.” ~ Rivers on his last interaction with Bryant.
Who: Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic
When: Sunday, January 26th, 6:00 PM EST
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
TV: Fox Sports Florida
Line: Los Angeles -3.5
Injuries: Clippers - Beverley (OUT), George (OUT); Magic - Aminu (OUT), Augustin (OUT), Isaac (OUT)
Man its gonna be hard tonight— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) January 26, 2020
Praying for the Bryant family! Can’t imagine what they are going through now... Rest in Peace Kobe and Gigi...— Nikola Vucevic (@NikolaVucevic) January 26, 2020
Words can’t express the emotions behind this. I pray for comfort and strength of the families affected by this tragedy. #RIPKobe— Wes Iwundu (@_Iwundu25) January 26, 2020
The Orlando Magic is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kobe Bryant. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Bryant family, the L.A. Lakers and the other victims of today’s tragedy and their families.— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) January 26, 2020
We will observe a moment of silence before tonight’s game.#RIPMAMBA pic.twitter.com/VwMzx4AKy5