As the world continues to mourn Kobe Bryant, more reactions keep coming, showing how great this man was both and off the court and how influential he was for everybody beyond the world of basketball.
More players have reacted to Kobe’s passing, with some of the biggest legends of the game paying their tribute to the Black Mamba. Scottie Pippen, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter honored the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
Scottie took to Twitter to dedicate several messages to Kobe, his daughter Gianna and the rest of the Bryant family.
“I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day,” he said.
“Heartbroken to look back on this. Kobe and Gigi, you’re both GOATs in my eyes and I know that one-on-ones like this will live on forever.
“It still feels like a horrible dream, but I wanted to share a few words about Kobe as we mourn losing him, his beautiful daughter Gianna, and the others who tragically passed.
“I remember when Kobe first got into the league. I told MJ during a workout, “This kid plays like you, talks like you, walks like you, he even sticks his tongue out like you. He’s going to be special.”
“Right away, it was obvious that Kobe was insanely competitive, supremely confident and as driven as anyone I’ve ever seen. In his early years, we were still in our prime. But you could see what he was thinking: “Y’all better than me now, but that’s not going to last.”
“Kobe wanted to be like Mike, and who didn’t? He modeled his game after MJ’s and aspired to be the best. But behind the scenes, Kobe was picking everybody’s brains. I loved his approach. He had so much respect for the game, his teammates and his competition.
“When Kobe was still playing, he’d call or text on occasion and we’d talk about basketball. He was so curious and he asked a lot about how to become a better defender and play certain guys. I’ll always cherish those conversations.
“He cared so much about the game and winning, and had an insatiable drive to constantly learn and improve. Championships and MVPs aside, those are the things that will define his legacy.
“For all the glory he achieved as a player, I think he was happiest in these recent years. Retirement for guys like him isn’t easy, but he was enjoying as much success off the court as he did on it. He loved his family more than anything in the world.
“I’m devastated and I feel like I lost a part of me. Kobe was amazing, a champion and an icon, and it’s impossibly difficult to know he’s not here anymore.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vanessa, daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri, and his extended family and friends. There will never be another Black Mamba. RIP.”
Meanwhile, former Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson shared an emotional anecdote about Kobe’s relentless work ethic on Instagram.
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“Words cannot express how I’m feeling today. The only two words that ring in my head — devastated and heartbroken. I cannot seem to shake this feeling no matter what I’ve tried to do since hearing this yesterday.
“People will always remember how we competed against each other in the league, but it goes much deeper than that for me. The story of us being drafted in arguably the deepest class of its kind ever in the history of the NBA can be debated for many years to come. However, his generosity and respect for the game is something that I witnessed first-hand every time we stepped on the dance floor to compete.
“It’s one memory of him that I can’t stop thinking about. It was our rookie season and my first trip to LA for a game against the Lakers. He came to my hotel, picked me up and took me to a restaurant. When we returned before he left, he asked me, “what are you going to do tonight?” My reply was, “I’m going to the club, what are you going to do?” He said, “I’m going to the gym.” That is who he always was, a true student of the game of basketball and also the game of life. He prepared relentlessly. There is something we can all learn from the “Mamba” mentality and from the way my brother lived his life. He will always have my respect as a competitor, as a friend, as a brother.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vanessa, their children and the families of all of the victims of yesterday’s tragedy. As a father, I cannot wrap my head around how they must feel.
“We are not okay. But we will find the strength to pull through this together because that’s what Kobe would want us to do.”
Tracy McGrady joined ESPN’s The Jump to talk about Bryant, recalling some disturbing words from Kobe during his first years in the association. McGrady said that in their early days in the league, Bryant had said he wanted to die young.
“It’s crazy, but Kobe spoke this,” McGrady said. “He used to say all the time, ‘I wanna die young.'”
“He used to say, ‘I wanna die young. I wanna be immortalized. I want to have my career be better than Michael Jordan and I wanna die young.’ And I just thought he was so crazy for saying that.”
“Hearing you say, ‘Oh I wanna die young, I wanna be a legend.’ That’s totally in line with young Kobe,” Nichols said. “But older Kobe, the Kobe that you and I spent the last year watching, the 40, 41-year-old Kobe, he wanted to be around for his family.”
T-Mac clarified, though: “Clearly that statement was way before kids. Once he had kids, he didn’t have that mindset.”
Further, he spoke out about Gianna Bryant, who also died in the crash.
“She was special. She was built like Kobe, her mannerisms, everything. To watch her play was like watching a young Kobe. She had the moves. She had a fadeaway at 13 years old. I’m watching this girl, and she just looks like her dad out there, and just, ‘Man she’s gonna be special.'”
“And she’s not going to get that opportunity.”
“I wasn’t ready for it,” he said. “Last time I cried was family passing. But he was family.”
Carter was drafted three seasons after Kobe made it to the league, and also detailed how Kobe made his decision to retire in 2016 after a decorated career:
“He said, ‘I’ll be OK,’” Vince Carter said. “Move forward to New Jersey (Dec. 21) when we had a conversation after the game. I said, ‘How is it?’ He said he’s the happiest that he’s been and getting the opportunity to see his kids grow up, helping his daughter figure out the game. Then he asked me if I was ready. I said, ‘I’m back and forth with it all the time.’ He said, ‘You’ll enjoy it. It’s peaceful.’ He said we’ll connect soon and we’ll talk about it and the steps he went through. The last thing we talked about was we were going to do whatever we could do to the best of our ability to talk about our daughters.”
Just like Carter said, NBA fans and players and executives must feel the same. Kobe was part of this big family and his presence will be very missed by every basketball lover.