MANILA, Philippines – Many legends have come and gone with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it will always be a valid argument that it has been Kobe Bryant’s team as the years went by.
Which is why after his shocking death on Sunday, January 26 (Monday, January 27, Philippine time), numerous pillars of the purple and gold gave fitting tributes fit for a future Hall of Famer and a generational icon of basketball.
One of these legends is none other than Bryant’s partner-in-crime during their NBA title three-peat from 2000 to 2002: Shaquille O’Neal.
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
Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Despite some heated feuds in the early years of their controversial fallout, the legendary duo eventually buried the hatchet as O’Neal even attended Bryant’s 60-point farewell game.
Like O’Neal, fellow legendary Laker big man and NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shared his thoughts on the Black Mamba’s tragic demise.
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing scoring record has yet to be broken by any other player in the league, and the nearest active star on pace to get there is another Laker hunting for banner number 17: LeBron James.
In a grim coincidence, James was just fresh off beating Bryant’s own scoring record in his birth place of Philadelphia before the tragedy struck.
And the Mamba’s last words online just happened to be about that historic feat.
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
James was mid-air in the team’s flight back to Los Angeles when the news broke, and thus he only learned of the shocking development upon landing.
“The King” has yet to say a word to the public regarding his good friend’s death, but judging by this video, no words needed to be said.
LeBron is met with emotional hugs after landing in Los Angeles following the death of Kobe Bryant.— ESPN (@espn) January 26, 2020
(via NBC4 Los Angeles) pic.twitter.com/Fx9jt2qZVi
Other Laker legends, meanwhile, had lots more to say on Bryant’s passing, with all-time great point guard Magic Johnson having the most detailed tributes on social media.
As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/X2vF0M0a1u— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It’s hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players. pic.twitter.com/NXsrXmCkkG— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
He gave his knowledge, time, and talent to tutor so many at the youth level, collegiate level, & NBA & WNBA players. Words can’t express the impact that he had on the game of basketball. I know basketball fans all over the world will miss him, especially the City of Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/ZoB3Uwbvzk— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
We love you forever. #8 #24— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
Bryant’s teammates over the years also expressed their shock at his sudden loss, including two-time champion Pau Gasol and longtime backcourt partner Derek Fisher.
Beyond devastated… my big brother… I can’t, I just can’t believe it— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 26, 2020
Struggling to process what is now a reality. Kobe’s life after basketball was just beginning and his second act was going to be even greater. His legacy, Gigi’s legacy both will live on forever!— Derek Fisher (@derekfisher) January 26, 2020
Steve Nash and Metta World Peace also shared a few words reflecting on their short, but meaningful stint during Bryant’s twilight years in the league.
My heart is broken for Kobe and his family. I’ll never forget the battles but what I really admired was the father he was to his girls. Rest In Peace old friend with your angel Gianna— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) January 26, 2020
Clearly, Bryant’s sudden death sent massive shockwaves even outside the reaches of the sporting world, but nothing could ever compare to the pain felt by those who shared his passion throughout the years with the purple and gold.
The effects of his death will surely be felt for years to come, which only proves the kind of impact the Mamba had on the hardwood and beyond. – Rappler.com