LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who died after their helicopter went down yesterday morning about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
The five-time NBA champion spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers and was the league’s No. 3 all-time scorer and remained there until Lakers forward LeBron James passed him on Saturday. Bryant was the league MVP in 2008, captured two scoring titles and earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
Reactions to the death of Kobe Bryant were swift and numerous. Michael Jordan gave a statement commending Bryant for his fierce competitive streak and called him “one of the greats of the game.” Larry Bird issued a statement saying Bryant was not only an icon in the sports arena, he was a man of the world and touched so many lives and communities in the most positive ways. Former President Barack Obama used Twitter to call Bryant “a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act.” President Donald Trump simply tweeted, “That is terrible news!”
NBA teams paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in several ways in their Sunday night match ups. The Nuggets held a moment of silence before tip-off against the visiting Rockets, with fans chanting, “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” right after. The Raptors and Spurs each allowed the 24-second clock to run out on purpose during their first possessions, in recognition of Bryant’s jersey number, 24. The Grizzlies won the opening tip against Phoenix and immediately took a 24-second clock violation. When the Suns took possession, they stayed in the backcourt for an 8-second violation — the 24 and 8 representing Bryant’s two numbers during his NBA career.
NFL players also joined the world in honoring and mourning the legendary Bryant. The Pro Bowl turned into a Kobe Bryant tribute. Players got together and faked fadeaway jumpers after big plays in an homage to Bryant. Green Bay receiver Davonte Adams pointed to the sky and flashed the number “24” on his fingers as an ode to Bryant’s jersey after a touchdown catch. The NFL’s annual all-star game also held a moment of silence for Bryant in the first half. The AFC beat the NFC 38-33 for a fourth consecutive victory in Orlando.
Kobe Bryant was just 41 years old. Authorities are still working at the scene of Sunday’s devastating helicopter crash.