Shaq, LeBron and Michael Jordan pay their tributes to the the late Kobe Bryant

January 26, 2020 will be a date that has been etched into basketball history the moment news broke of the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Dense fog contributed to a helicopter crash that ended the lives of Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people on that fateful Sunday. In the time since then, the basketball world has tried to come to terms with the loss of one of the greatest players to ever grace a court.

Any merchandise bearing Kobe Bryant’s name or jersey numbers have been selling out and tributes have poured in from former teammates and rivals, retired players and current superstars. We decided to round up a few of the tributes to the famous LA Lakers shooting guard. Rest in peace, Kobe.

For many, Kobe took over the mantle of basketball’s biggest star that once belonged to Michael Jordan. The pair played in the NBA at the same time, albeit at opposite ends of their career, and the picture of them taking a breather side by side is iconic. Jordan released a statement soon after hearing the news, referring to Kobe as a little brother.

“We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much,” he continued. “He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.”

Shaquille O’Neal was a legend in his own right and played on the same team as Kobe on the way to picking up several NBA Championship titles. They had a love-hate relationship that was fueled by a mutual desire to win during their playing days. Their friendship has only grown in the time since they’ve stopped playing. Understandably, the news hit Shaq hard and he posted the following tribute on social media:

“There are no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences go out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.”

Shaq and Dwyane Wade would offer up another tribute to Bryant on TNT a week later

Only a few hours before the tragedy unfolded, LeBron James was wearing the yellow of Kobe’s Lakers as he overtook his predecessor in the NBA list of all-time points. It wasn’t difficult to foresee the record being broken, it was coming (as said in the predictions of Wincomparator’s experts) and sure enough, LeBron overtook Kobe’s points total with 29 in the defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Always a class act, Kobe was the first to congratulate LeBron. It was a terrible twist of fate for LeBron to have to also pay tribute in the days that follow. He read an emotional speech in front of fans in Staples Center. Summing up what made Kobe great, he said:

“This is a celebration of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the gettin’ up, everything, the countless hours. The determination to be a great as he could be.”

Later that week, LeBron would emulate a Kobe Bryant fastbreak dunk in an in-game tribute to #24.

Gone but never forgotten. Rest in power, Kobe.

 

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