Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna will be honored on Monday with a memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and former NBA star Magic Johnson honored Bryant in that same building on Sunday night before the Los Angeles Lakers played the Boston Celtics. Sports Illustrated reports that Johnson spoke alongside a panel of former Lakers and Celtics players in front of a select group of season ticket holders and reporters and said it will take "years to get over" Bryant's death.
"It's hard in a two-minute, five-minute time to say everything he meant to the world, to the NBA, to basketball fans," Johnson said. "He's bigger than life. And it will take... years to get over his passing and his daughter and the seven other people who lost their lives as well."
Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 along with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The helicopter had been on the way to the Mamba Sports Academy, which Bryant began focusing on after his retirement from the NBA in 2016.
"Pat Riley told all three of us this," Johnson said on Sunday, referring to himself, Michael Cooper and Kurt Rambis. "You won't enjoy what you accomplish until after it's over. Kobe was living his best life after basketball. His relationship with his kids, with his wife, the the work in the community. He was about women's athletics, the WNBA."
"He worked out with everybody," Johnson added of Bryant's life after the NBA. "The list of players that this man worked out with, Kawhi [Leonard], Kyrie Irving, [Jayson] Tatum of the Celtics, on and on and on. I mean, he would give his time and his knowledge of the game to all these young players."
During his time in the league, Bryant won five NBA championships with the Lakers after he was drafted by the team when he was 18 years old.
"When he came as a rookie, the commitment to being great, working hard each and every day, he was up at 3 or 4 in the morning, already did a two-hour workout, then would come here and workout with the Lakers," Johnson recalled. "He was committed to just dominating and he did."
Bryant retired in 2016, scoring 60 points in his final game against the Utah Jazz.0comments
"Who goes out at 60 points in their last game?" Johnson said. "It was truly amazing. Every night you might see something that you would never ever see before again."
Photo Credit: Getty / Leon Bennett