The NBA All-Star Weekend was held this weekend in Chicago, and the annual event featured numerous tributes to the late Kobe Bryant. Bryant's former teammate, Rick Fox, was one of many people who knew Bryant in attendance over the weekend, and the athlete got emotional discussing his late friend at the NBA Crossover event on Saturday.
"Nothing like tragedy to stop you in your tracks," Fox told TMZ. "That was a big blow to me personally, it was a big blow to a lot of people globally. I can speak for how it impacted me, but I got to watch how it impacted the world, and that's a tribute to his legacy. It's a tribute to how he lived his life in his retirement, being a mentor and spreading his gifts and his skills and his knowledge to others and that's what he was really focused on. I'm so proud to have been not only a teammate, but friend."
"It was way bigger than basketball," he added of Bryant's impact on the world. "I'm proud to have known him for that. The world doesn't respond the way that it does for just someone that's played a game and entertained us. His legacy is beyond that and it shows."
Fox shared that his favorite memories of Bryant are "a few private ones, a few personal ones." "A lot of them come with him sharing some of his early visions for his career," he said. "He would bounce them off of me in the back of the bus heading to the airport after a game or on the plane, and they always seemed to be so out of worldly, yet I spent the next 20 years watching him come up with some, in some cases surpassing them."
Fox, who played with Bryant for seven seasons on the Los Angeles Lakers, said that the thing that makes him "most emotional" is the thought of what Bryant could have achieved with more time.
"It would have been tenfold, ten times what he was doing now," he said. "We're going to miss that."
The All-Star Game itself was held on Sunday and included several tributes to Bryant including a performance by Jennifer Hudson, a speech by Magic Johnson, a spoken-word piece by Common, a pre-recorded video from Dr. Dre and the halftime performance by Chance the Rapper. In addition, Team Giannis wore Bryant's No. 24 jersey and Team LeBron wore No. 2 jerseys in honor of Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died with him in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
Both teams also wore patches with nine stars to honor the nine victims in the crash, who also included Gianna's basketball teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Altobelli's parents John and Keri Altobelli, Chester's mom Sarah Chester, girls' basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
Photo Credit: Getty / Matthew Eisman