Lakers GM Rob Pelinka 'Heartbroken' Kobe Bryant Can't Attend Basketball Hall of Fame to Receive Honor

Kobe Bryant has been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame this year, which is a surprise to no one. However, with Bryant dying in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, he won't be able to receive the honor in person, which bothers Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. On Saturday, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame named Bryant as one of the inductees, and when Pelinka heard the news, it was tough for him.

"It was a moment that was full of mixed emotion," Pelinka said Wednesday on a Zoom call per USA Today. "I think all of us are heartbroken that he couldn’t be there to receive that honor in person. But I have a level of confidence he’s with us in spirit and still is celebrating that." Pelinka was close to Bryant, as he was his agent in the latter part of his career. When he first heard the news of Bryant's death, he talked about the impact he made on the NBA.

"He was, simply put, the most inspirational athlete of our time," Pelinka said of Bryant. "Kobe was a force of nature, deep and obsessed with excellence. He was wise, determined, passionate. A visionary beyond measure. A dedicated and loving husband, and a 'girl-dad' like no other. "When he walked into a room, the energy ignited. He was high voltage, with a motor that had no limits. His mind has an infinite capacity to learn. He was, simply put, the most inspirational athlete of our time. What the world may not know, is that he was also the best friend anyone could ever imagine."

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Bryant had a memorable career with the Lakers. He led the team to five NBA titles from 2000-2010, and won the MVP award in 2008. Bryant was named an All-Star 18 times while winning the All-Star MVP award four times.

"No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers," Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched. Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles – and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more."