BOROUGHWIDE — Following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, Jan. 26 that resulted in the stunning deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other victims, Brooklynites joined in the general sense of mourning sweeping the country.
“My memories of Kobe Bryant go far off the basketball court,” said Borough President Eric Adams via Twitter. “As a professional basketball player, he was a superstar. As a personal hero to young men like my son Jordan, he was a mentor and an inspiration as a storyteller and entrepreneur. We will remember #MambaForever.”
“As a painfully loyal long-time Knicks fan, if there was a top-tier player other than Michael Jordan that routinely showcased his enormous talent and consistently won whenever visiting the Garden floor, it was LA Laker Kobe Bryant,” added Councilmember Mark Treyger. “Shocked and saddened to hear of his tragic death. Prayers are with his family, friends, and all those he impacted in positive ways.”
At Madison Square Garden, the Brooklyn Nets played the New York Knicks, but did so without their star point guard Kyrie Irving, who sat out due to personal reasons. It was said by those who know Irving that he was close with Bryant and didn’t play because of Bryant’s death.
“I was with him,” Atkinson said about Irving, following the game, as the team was at the arena when members heard the news. “I’ll keep that private, but they were very close. Tough, tough, tough, tough times.”
As for the mood of the team, “I’ll keep that between me and the players,” Atkinson said. “It was a quiet locker room. It was an emotional locker room. No one really spoke three hours before tip off. Sometimes there are no words, and I didn’t really have any words to console them. I know it’s important that we were together but [it was an] emotional night for all of us.”
Atkinson described the five-time NBA champion and 18-time all-star as, “Iconic, and all of us here, the memories are ingrained. Iconic is the best word I can use.”
When asked if games should continue to be played as scheduled following Bryant’s untimely death, Atkinson said, “I’d rather keep my opinion on that to myself.”
“I grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He was everything to my generation,” said Nets Spencer Dinwiddie after the game, “the lesson of hard work and as cliche as it may sound, the mamba mentality. That’s part of the reason I am who I am today. The mentality of consistent work and pushing through boundaries and playing through injuries.Never giving up and never falling. Just continuing to push through.”
Once the game between the Nets and the Knicks started, each team held the ball and received a 24-second violation in honor of Bryant, who wore that number on his jersey for many years. Many other teams did the same, and Mayor Bill de Blasio responded via Twitter.
“When you think of what the Bryant family has endured today, a moment like this — a reminder that they’re not alone in the grief they feel — is truly powerful,” he tweeted in response to the tribute by the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks.
“That shows what he meant to people,” added Dinwiddie. “He didn’t play for the Knicks, and Madison Square Garden was on their feet.
“Naw…#BlackMamba!! NAW MAN,” tweeted Public Advocate Jumaane Willams. “One of the greatest w/out question. Signed #KnickFanInShockandMourning.
“I imagine he woke this morning w/plans like all of us,” Williams added. “Was a routine trip w/daughter & 7 others. -Life is truly fleeting #KobeRIP #prayersforallthefamiles.”