Friday was always going to be a heavy day in Los Angeles as the Lakers played their first game since the tragic death of NBA icon Kobe Bryant. ESPN offered viewers wall to wall coverage of the tribute to the fallen star and they brought in some help from Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan. He gave a voice over to preface the sort of drive and commitment that Bryant showed every time he stepped on the floor. The highlight reel wasn’t just things on the basketball court, it was video of Kobe with his daughter Gianna or with his wife Vanessa. There was photos of his earlier career as a kid with an afro on Shaquille O’Neal’s back. Or later in his life after he had retired and coached his daughters at the Mamba Academy he established in California. The emotion in the arena was palpable and it only ratcheted up when LeBron James gave a heartfelt speech about his friend and colleague.
On Sunday, news of the helicopter crash soon swirled around Twitter as misinformation was everywhere. Conflicting reports seemingly multiplied by the minute. Los Angeles authorities released a statement on the tragedy that clarified that nine people were aboard. The outpouring of emotion from people all over the world was overwhelming. The Lakers organization opened the gates to the practice facility in El Segundo and allowed fans to leave messages for the families. Memorials are still being made outside of the Staples Center where the club plays their games in Downtown Los Angeles.
So many famous celebrities broke down their love for the great player. Chadwick Boseman spoke about the bond he felt to Bryant as a man apart from his athletic accomplishment. He wrote on Twitter, “I’m heartbroken. Shocked. Husband, Father, Strategist, Philosopher-Poet, Warrior-Athlete, Filmmaker...your focus is magnetic, Kobe. My love goes out to you and your family.”
"Every day can be a chance to lift yourself, just a little bit higher, make yourself just a little bit better. That was the Mamba Mentality."@michaelb4jordan sums up the emotions of the past few days. pic.twitter.com/xlpM6HdGVS— ESPN (@espn) January 31, 2020
Jack Nicholson saw every home game the Lakers legend played and he told CBSLA about his reactions in the immediate aftermath. “My reaction is the same as almost all of LA.," Nicholson told the news. "Where we think everything’s solid, there’s a big hole in the wall. I was used to seeing and talking to Kobe that… it kills you. It’s just a terrible event."
He continued, "I remember the totality of how great a player he was… We’ll think of him all the time and we’ll miss him.” Today, many others do as well.
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images