(AP) — Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who died after their helicopter went down Sunday 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.
Reaction to the death of Kobe Bryant was 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. 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 No. 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.
“I love the feistiness you play with. That’s going to take you far.”
Prayers and hugs. https://t.co/VicFY0Uq11
— Sophie Cunningham (@sophaller) January 26, 2020
MPJ on Kobe: pic.twitter.com/Rh72DW30ud
— Nick Kosmider (@NickKosmider) January 26, 2020