NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fans in the basketball world and beyond were shocked and saddened over the news of Kobe Bryant’s sudden death on Sunday.
Tributes poured in online, ever since it was learned that Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash earlier in the day in Calabasas, Calif.
Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers franchise. In his 20 year career, he was an 18-time All-Star, the league MVP in 2008, a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
CBS2’s Scott Rapoport spoke to heartbroken fans outside of Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.
“This a very bad day in basketball history,” one fan said.
“He was an unbelievable player,” another fan said.
“The whole city is hurt. My mom just called me and asked me about, did you hear about Kobe Bryant? Kobe Bryant. Everyone in the city is just shocked,” added Carlos Martinez of Harlem.
A poignant moment of silence was held before the game between the Knicks and Nets, and during the game both teams honored the Lakers legend by taking a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of the number 24, which was worn by Bryant.
The Knicks honored Kobe Bryant with a moment of silence for him before tonight's Knicks-Nets game at Madison Square Garden. Fans then chanted "Kobe Kobe Kobe" after it concluded. pic.twitter.com/CSi59FfaK5
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) January 26, 2020
Similar tributes were held across the NBA on Sunday evening.
Before the game between the Knicks and the Nets, coaches from both teams remembered Bryant with heavy hearts and tremendous respect.
“He was not only a basketball icon but a global icon, someone that many in our locker room hold in high regard,” Knicks coach Mike Miller said.
“You know Superman is not supposed to die. You know, to us he was Superman,” Knicks forward Marcus Morris said.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was clearly emotional, as he paused several times to compose himself while speaking to reporters.
“As an organization, we’re devastated, our players are devastated … um …,” Atkinson said.
The reaction all over social media was one of shock and sorrow.
Michael Jordan, who Kobe was most often compared to, said in a statement, “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me.”
Former championship teammate O’Neal took to Twitter to express his grief.
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
NBA great Dwyane Wade agonizingly tweeted, “Nooooooooooo God please No!”
Coaches and players all over the league were clearly feeling the emotional impact of this monumental tragedy.
“This is a great loss for the league. I thought he had so much more left to do,” Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers said.