The tragic death of former LA Lakers player Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in California this week, has touched the lives of millions all over the globe, including those in with a deep connection to basketball.
Countless nights were spent by fans watching the accomplishments of the “black mamba” inside the courts.
After the news of the 41-year-old’s passing made the rounds of the online community, several sports organisations, players and clubs rushed to express their shock and bid a final farewell to the legendary number 24.
More specifically, the Hellenic Basketball Clubs Association (ESAKE) tweeted: “There are no words. ESAKE would like to express its deep sadness for the loss of Kobe Bryant …”
The Panathinaikos Basketball Club honoured Bryant before the start of their game against PAOK, tweeting “MambaOut”, going on to pin to their profile the legendary words spoken by the player as used by club manager Rick Pitino before the start of their game against the Thessaloniki club:
“There are times when you wake up early and work hard, there are times when you stay up late and work hard, there are times when you don’t feel like doing the work, you’re too tired, you don’t want to pressure yourself, but you do it anyway. That’s the dream.”
Olympiacos Basketball Club also honoured Bryant through their own post that read: “There are times when words lose all meaning. There are times when everything that comes to mind is why. World basketball is mourning. Rest In Peace Legend Kobe Bryant. Always in our hearts.”
Vasilis Spanoulis who had met Bryant back in 2011, expressed his thoughts on the former Laker, comparing him to Michael Jordan:
“Kobe was the one to reach perfection more than anyone else, he was the closest thing to Jordan,” said Spanoulis during a Hellenic TV show dedicated to the late Bryant.
“He was a man that always wanted to win, very selfish inside the court, a great winner and it was a dream of mine to play alongside him. He was a basketball phenomenon, he knew everything about everyone, he had a pathological love for the sport and should be an example for everyone, not just in basketball but also in life.”
But the one who appeared to be the most affected by the news of Bryant’s passing was none other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, who shut down all his social media pages after the story broke out.
Appearing in front of journalists a day later, the 25-year-old looked devastated, wanting to keep the most cherished memories he shared with the late NBA player for himself.
“Kobe was great. He was two different people, the man inside the court and the character outside of it. He would always smile, he had that gift. He touched a lot of people’s lives, including my own family’s, even though they never had a chance to meet him. It’s a really sad day. You can’t really say a lot about this, you just sit down, wonder and realise how important life and family truly are. I don’t know what to say. I’m trying to cope. I’m human. I won’t hold some sort of press conference. Each person deals with it in their own way. I will hold his family in my thoughts,” Antetokounmpo said.
Many other Greek organisations and individuals gave their final farewell to a player and person who will always be remembered in the highest regard.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the crash.