Doc Rivers could hardly get the words out when he was asked about the death of Kobe Bryant following a helicopter crash that took the life of the longtime Los Angeles Lakers star along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
The Los Angeles Clippers head coach watched Bryant become the legend he came to be throughout his 20-year career. He also coached against him in an NBA Finals.
"The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him," Rivers said after gathering himself. "He means a lot to me. He was such a great opponent. It's what you want in sports. He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have,” Rivers said. “Looking at my young players and seeing how emotional they are, and they didn’t even know him. It just tells you how far his reach was.”
Rivers went about 20 seconds before he could even get a response out.
The tragic passing of Bryant left many like Rivers, feeling disbelief. Former NBA superstar and longtime counterpart to Bryant, Dwayne Wade, was brought to tears during a three-minute video he posted reflecting on his relationship with the five-time NBA champion.
"Today is one of the saddest days of my lifetime," Wade began after a 10-second pause to start the clip as he collected his thoughts. "It seems like a bad dream that you just want to wake up from. It's a nightmare. I know we all feeling the same way about such a great leader, a great champion, a great person. If you got a chance to really know Kobe... ain't nobody better."
Another emotional message came from one of Bryant's longtime teammates, Lamar Odom. The former Sixth Man of the Year shared a lengthy Instagram post about his friend, detailing memories he had of things they'd do in practice to a very personal impact Bryant had on him off of the court.0comments
"Of course anyone who knows my story knows I've suffered a lot of loss but the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son. Even though our relationship wasn’t father/son, it was more like him being a teacher and me being his brother. I'm glad I got to be the ying to your yang as far as the locker room was concerned. It was my pleasure."
Bryant was 41 years old at the time of his death.