The NBA world was stunned today when future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant died in a fatal helicopter crash that killed seven other people. The NBA sent out a confirmatory email verifying the passing of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link).
Several key sites in Bryant’s life are already being flooded with tributes and fans. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that hundreds of fans have arrived at the scene of the crash in Calabasas, with the wreckage still smoking. Rich Hoffman of The Athletic (Twitter link) documented a small shrine to Bryant developing at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, Bryant’s alma matter. The Athletic’s Brett Dawson took stock of mourners gathering at Staples Center (Twitter link), the Lakers’ current home arena.
Though all of today’s NBA games appear on track to continue, not all the players are up for logging time. Nets guard Kyrie Irving, famously close with Bryant, will be sitting out today’s tilt against the Knicks, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link).
Here are more reactions to Bryant’s death:
- Scott Horner of the Indianapolis Star compiled many of the tributes from current and historic Pacers, including Reggie Miller and Myles Turner, plus other NBA and sports luminaries.
- European football star Neymar dedicated his second goal this evening to Bryant, according to ESPN FC (Twitter link).
- Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry paid tribute to Bryant’s appreciation for his legions of fans in comments to reporters, captured by Ben Golliver of the Washington Post (Twitter link). “The last game he was here he stood right there in that locker room and signed every piece of memorabilia,” Gentry said. “That’s the side of him that people didn’t see.”
- Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, whose Celtics battled Bryant’s Lakers in the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals, was in tears talking to reporters. “The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him,” Rivers said (video link via NBA TV). “He means a lot to me obviously… I was getting to know him more since he retired. This is a tough one.”
- J.A. Adande, an ESPN Around The Horn panelist and the Director of Sports Journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, spoke about Bryant’s legendary work ethic during a SportsCenter conversation. “Since the year 2000, he has been the predominant Los Angeles athlete,” Adande said. “LA fans have always appreciated hard work… he was a dedicated player, a hardworking player.” Adande covered a vast majority of Bryant’s playoff games for ESPN and the LA Times. ESPN reporter Jay Williams paid tribute to Bryant on SportsCenter (Twitter link) as well.
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated proposes having both All-Star teams this season wear tributary jerseys for Bryant’s two jersey numbers (Twitter link). Mannix proposed that Team LeBron could wear No. 8, while Team Giannis could wear No. 24.