Perhaps nobody outside of Kobe's family has had a more up-close and personal experience with the Mamba than Phil Jackson.
As his coach for the first decade of his career, Phil mentored Bryant through multiple Championships as he helped nurture and grow his game to unbelievable levels. Following the news of Kobe's death, Jackson made a heartfelt statement.
“The crash was a tragedy for multiple families. My heart goes out to Vanessa and the families that lost loved ones,” Jackson said, per B/R’s Howard Beck. “Kobe was a chosen one—special in many ways to many people. Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil.”
Jackson's words sing with truth. Kobe was unique in his mentality, work-ethic, and electric personality. He was truly a gem not only to his family but also to the NBA and the community as a whole.
As his family and friends mourn his death, people around the world are showing their appreciation for the five-time Champion. In all of these cases, Bryant's character and reputation are shown on full display. For Jackson, he saw first-hand what kind of man Kobe was. He was a winner, a baller, and a killer -- in the best of ways.