Kobe Bryant dead: Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic among stunned NBA stars

By Ben Spratt 27 January 2020 25
Kobe Bryant dead: Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic among stunned NBA stars

Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic and Pau Gasol were among those to pay tribute on Sunday as news broke of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant's passing.

Bryant, 41, was one of nine people who lost their lives in a helicopter crash close to the city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County, California.

The Lakers icon's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the incident.

A number of NBA players led tributes to Bryant, while others were involved in games on Sunday, with a moment's silence observed at the Denver Nuggets.

Philadelphia 76ers' Embiid was among the first to react, describing himself as "so freaking sad" as he reflected on the death of an inspirational star.

"Man I don't even know where to start," he wrote on Twitter. "I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals.

"I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I'm so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! RIP LEGEND"

MVP candidate Luka Doncic uploaded a picture with Bryant's daughter, writing: "this is so sad! RIP"

Bryant's former Lakers team-mate Pau Gasol posted: "Beyond devastated... my big brother... I can’t, I just can't believe it."

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green simply posted: "Stunned!"

Similarly, the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard wrote: "Wow."

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, and the Sixers were among the teams to post a statement in response to his death.

"The Philadelphia 76ers organisation mourns the losses of NBA icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and all of those who passed away tragically today in an accident in California," it read.

"Bryant, one of the most decorated players in NBA history and a global ambassador for the game, made an everlasting mark on our league.

"His determination, passion to win and fierce competitiveness fuelled the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA championships and inspired millions of people around the world. 

"Bryant's journey to icon status in the world of basketball included deep ties to the Philadelphia region, where he starred at Lower Merion High School from 1992-96.

As he honed his craft in Philadelphia, Bryant established a reputation as a player with once-in-a-lifetime poise, grit, heart and an unwavering love of the game.
 
"While his imprint on the game of basketball will be etched in the history books forever, Bryant will also be remembered for his love of his family, commitment to community through his philanthropic work, and for being an innovative leader in business.

"The 76ers organisation sends its sincerest condolences to Vanessa Bryant and the Bryant family during this incredibly difficult time.

"We also send our condolences to Jeanie Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers organisation and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere."

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Ben Spratt

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