How Kobe Bryant’s sudden death is first of its kind in a wireless world

Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS

Most of us with an early love of sport were drawn to a particular athlete who touched us and became our first favorite. For me, that was Roberto Clemente.

Baseball was my first sports passion, inherited from my mother, who told stories of her youth in Louisiana, where several relatives were good enough to play in the Negro Leagues — the only one available to them — and make a buck while entertaining locals.

Growing up in Oakland, baseball meant choosing between the Giants and the A’s. I liked both, really, with a slight edge to the A’s. No one on either team captured my attention as Clemente did, even though he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2,500 miles away.

He captured my attention with his style and performance, and he maintained it with his intensity, which burned through the TV screen. He was fierce and clutch. Playing the game as if obsessed with getting all he could from it before it was taken away, he left no room to question how much it meant to him.

I pleaded for and received a Clemente bat, with the distinctive thick handle, and tried imitating his violent swing. I wanted a Clemente glove, which I did not get. Through it all, I read every page of every newspaper article or book that I could find. I still remember one sportswriter’s description of Clemente’s skin as “so tight it barely fits.”

So, when the news came on Dec. 31, 1972 that Clemente had been on a plane that dived into the Atlantic Ocean and was lost at sea, my naïve mind somehow imagined he could survive. That he would swim ashore. Not until a few days later, when reality set in, did I weep, along with all of baseball.

I later learned a few things. One, that Puerto Rico, as a nation, went from frantic to distraught. That day after day, for weeks, people would line up along shore to watch scuba divers scour the ocean. That one of Clemente’s teammates, catcher Manny Sanguillen was so hysterical that for three days he insisted on joining recovery efforts that never recovered Clemente’s remains.

I also learned that Clemente had, over a period of years, told numerous people he would die young. He was 38.

There was Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady on Monday, trying and failing to suppress his sobbing, saying Kobe Bryant had talked of dying young. He wanted to be immortalized.

Kobe was 41.

Died in an air disaster.

Was there ever any room to wonder how much competing meant to Kobe?

But 47 years later, the world is much different. Technology has made it a much closer place. Whereas Clemente’s sudden death hit specific areas exceedingly hard, Kobe’s death is the first of a superstar athlete dying, while still vibrant, in our wireless world.

It is that component that makes the sadness so massive. It is Day 4 and we still are reeling. All of us, to varying degrees. Businesses unaffiliated with sports are sending emails to employees notifying them of Kobe Remembrance days.

Have we ever seen so many men, from so many walks of life, shedding tears? Droplets streaming down the face of 7-foot-1, 350-pound Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe’s teammate with the Lakers for eight seasons. Jerry West, a certified legend and the man who ensured Kobe would be a Laker, blubbering “I don’t know if I can get over this.”

Players, coaches and fans wiping tears, a lump in every throat. Every pocket of the planet is shaken, every continent grieving. Never have so many sneakers been scribbled on, so many No. 8s and No. 24s gracing jerseys across so many sports. So many moments of silence in so many gyms. Kobe jerseys are being worn in China, in Europe, in Brazil, in Canada, even in Boston and Sacramento. Probably in Russia and certainly in Italy.

Nike, the largest athletic wear company on earth, has been raided of its Kobe apparel. All out. Orders must wait.

Kobe was known to billions. And the first favorite for millions.

The games go on, as Kobe would have demanded. The Warriors and 76ers played Tuesday night in Philadelphia, a few miles from where he was born.

Joel Embiid, who normally wears No. 21, asked permission to wear No. 24, which is retired as the number worn by Sixers legend Bobby Jones. Jones gave his OK. Embiid, who had not played in three weeks, scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Those numbers. Again.

“That was cool,” Embiid told reporters in Philadelphia. “I didn’t know it was actually 24 points as I shot that fadeaway. That was what he was about. I actually yelled, ‘Kobe!’ A lot of us, since I started playing basketball, that’s how we’ve always done it. You shoot something in the trash and you just go ‘Kobe!’ so that was cool.”

The shock is fading ever so slightly, giving way to heartfelt remembrances and testimonials, a futile effort to breathe life into a perished legend.

“A few days out, we’re able to reflect a little bit and think about Kobe’s career and his life,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“The reality that Kobe has passed gets a little bit more, for me, real,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “It’s final and the impact that he has had on our game … really, it’s been interesting for me to see the connection that the basketball fraternity has, in an incredibly sad way, been forced to make. Everybody reaches out and there is a connection that you feel as a basketball world.

“It’s deeper than the NBA.”

Thousands continue to wander, at all hours, the area of downtown Los Angeles near Staples Center. They’re bringing flowers. They’re writing messages. They’re hugging. They’re crying. They’re staring at images of Kobe.

Los Angeles and the world in January 2020 are aching, just as my little corner of Oakland, along with all of Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico, were in January 1973.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr shares one amazingly hilarious memory of Kobe Bryant that stands out

Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS

Warriors coach Steve Kerr played and coached against Kobe Bryant.

He also broadcasted a ton of his games.

So is there one specific memory or moment or image of the late NBA legend that stands out the most?

“I’ve been asked a few times the last couple of days what’s my memory of Kobe and it’s similar to saying, ‘What’s your memory of Michael?’ And the point with those guys is that there is no one memory because they were putting on a show every single night,” Kerr recently explained to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt on the “SVPod” podcast. “It’s what made them special.

“But I do have a memory of Kobe in the (2010) West finals when I was the general manager in Phoenix. Lakers were up (three-games-to-two) and we came back to Phoenix for Game 6. We had a lead most of the game, and Kobe hit a series of impossible shots right in front of the Phoenix bench that completely turned the game.

“And on a couple of them, Kobe literally fell back into the bench and he slapped (Suns coach) Alvin Gentry’s behind twice. And Alvin just shook his head. All you could do is marvel and smile. Anybody else, Alvin would have been ready to fight. But at that point, you just tip your cap. That game always stands out.”

Kobe finished that game with 37 points, and Kerr wasn’t lying about the five-time NBA champion slapping Gentry:

He averaged 33.7 points, 8.3 assists and 7.2 rebounds that series against Phoenix while shooting 52 percent overall and 43.2 percent from deep.

Just incredible.

Kawhi Leonard uncertain on future helicopter use after Kobe Bryant crash

Ryan Young | Yahoo Sports

Kawhi Leonard had nothing but good things to say about the helicopter pilot who was flying Kobe Bryant and seven others on Sunday morning when it crashed just outside of Los Angeles.

The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was also Leonard’s personal pilot.

“Flown with him a lot. Great guy, super nice. He was one of their best pilots,” Leonard said Wednesday, via Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “That’s a guy who you ask for to fly you from city to city.

“It’s just surreal still for me. He’ll drop me off and say he’s about to go pick up Kobe … He’ll just be like, ‘I just dropped Kobe off, he said, ‘Hello,’’ and vice versa. It’s just a crazy interaction. He’s a good dude. I’m sorry for everybody.”

Zobayan — an experienced pilot and certified flight instructor with more than 8,000 hours of flight time under his belt — was among those killed in the tragic accident that killed Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash, though heavy fog and low visibility in the area are believed to be the major factors.

Leonard, after deciding to join the Los Angeles Clippers last summer and return to his hometown, talked with Bryant about traveling around Southern California and his helicopter use. Bryant told him he had been flying around the city “for about 17 years or so.”

While Leonard does have a home near the Staples Center in Los Angeles, he frequently travels down to San Diego to stay at his property there — and used a helicopter to do so.

In the wake of the tragedy, however, Leonard isn’t sure if he’ll continue flying back and forth.

“I mean, the things that you hear, you don’t know what’s real yet,” Leonard said, via the Los Angeles Times. “I can’t really speak on it. I don’t know. I don’t know yet. It’s a lot of thoughts in my head.”

Vanessa Bryant: ‘There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now’

ESPN

In her first public comments since the death of husband Kobe and daughter Gianna on Sunday, Vanessa Bryant thanked the millions of fans who have shown support during what she called a “horrific” time.

She also announced the formation of a fund to help support the other families that were affected by the crash.

“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” Bryant wrote in an Instagram post accompanied by a picture of the entire family. “I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”

View this post on Instagram

My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on

Kobe and Gianna, 13, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. They were among nine victims in the crash, which remains under investigation.

Kobe and Vanessa married in 2001, and they had four daughters together. Their oldest, Natalia, is 17, and their youngest, Capri, is 7 months old. They also have a 3-year-old, Bianka.

“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them,” Bryant said as part of the post. “But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”

Shaqille O’Neal and Jerry West share emotional memories and feelings about Kobe Bryant

Shaq revealed that the last time he spoke to Bryant was right before his legendary, 60-point final game.

“The last time I talked to him was when I asked him to get 50 and he got 60. That’s the last time I spoke to him,” he said.

He lamented that he didn’t just pick up the phone more often.

“I wish I could say one last thing to the people that we lost,” Shaq said. “Because once you’re gone, you’re gone forever – and so we should never take stuff like that for granted…”

“Honestly, I felt like his father for two years… I don’t know if I can get over this — I really don’t…” — Jerry West

Petition to change NBA logo to Kobe Bryant surpasses 2 million signatures

CHRISTOPHER BRITO | CBS SPORTS

petition to change the NBA logo to an image of Kobe Bryant has now surpassed more than 2 million signatures in two days. The logo currently bears the silhouette of Hall of Fame basketball player Jerry West, a friend and mentor to Bryant.

Bryant and eight others, including his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash Sunday afternoon. Soon after, 16-year-old Nikyar Moghtader, a fan from Vancouver, Canada, felt he needed to “commemorate him for all he’s done.”

“What led me to make the petition was the fact that Kobe Bryant was a role model not only to me but to countless fans,” Moghtader told CBS News on Tuesday. “I thought that making him the NBA logo would be an amazing way to immortalize him in the NBA forever.”

As of early Tuesday afternoon, the petition on Change.org has more than 2 million signatures and counting –– far more than Moghtader ever anticipated.

“My expectations were to get a mere 100 signatures, I didn’t expect the amount of overwhelming support the amazing NBA and Kobe Bryant community has gave,” he said. CBS News has reached out to the NBA for comment on the petition, but did not immediately hear back.

While the world mourns Bryant, Moghtader expressed hope the NBA will consider the change because of West’s relationship with Bryant. After his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, West became the team’s general manager, and he brought Bryant to the Lakers in a 1996 trade. The two then forged a lifelong bond.

“Considering his close friend Jerry West (the Logo) said he doesn’t care to be the logo anymore so who better to pass the torch to then Kobe Bryant?” Moghtader said.

West told ESPN’s “The Jump” in a 2017 interview that the logo of his silhouette calls too much attention to himself and openly asked to change it.

“If they would want to change it, I wish they would,” he said. “In many ways I wish they would.”

On Sunday, West had some touching words for Bryant.

“I will love Kobe forever and always cherish the time that I spent with him,” West said in a statement. “I watched him grow from an energetic kid into the man he became, making a difference in so many people’s life. He has left the world a better place. Kobe’s legacy will live forever.”

HOF chairman: ‘Kobe will be honored the way he should be’

Liz Roscher | Yahoo Sports

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has honored many NBA greats, and in August it will enshrine someone who’s gone far, far too soon.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame fully expects to induct Kobe Bryant as part of its 2020 class. Bryant was killed along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Bryant was part of the 2020 class of nominees that was announced in December, which includes Muggsy Bogues, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tim Hardaway.

The 2020 Hall of Fame class will be officially announced in early April.

Victims Of Helicopter Crash Identified: Kobe Bryant On Board With Local Coaches, Children

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife and their daughter also were among those who perished

Hayley Miller | HUFFPOST

Nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, were killed when the basketball legend’s helicopter crashed into a hillside outside Los Angeles on Sunday.

Officials on Monday were still working to determine what caused the fatal crash. The Sikorsky S-76 aircraft went down in foggy conditions that prompted local police agencies to ground their helicopters around the same time.

Though authorities had not yet publicly identified crash victims as of Monday morning, some relatives and community members had begun to confirm their loved ones’ deaths. 

Along with Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, here are the victims of the crash:

John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri; and their daughter, Alyssa, died in the crash, the school said in a statement on Sunday.

Alyssa and Gianna played together on the AAU basketball team coached by Bryant, reported The Houston Chronicle. The group was reportedly headed to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy for a tournament. 

University of Houston baseball coach Todd Whitting told the Chronicle he was “absolutely devastated” by the deaths.

“Not only was John a great supporter of the UH program, but he was a great friend,” Whitting said. “He had such a zest for life and was a tremendous friend to all of us that were close to him.”

John and Keri Altobelli are survived by a daughter, Alexis, and a son, Red Sox scout J.J. Altobelli, reported the Chronicle.

Christina Mauser

Christina Mauser was the top assistant coach of the Mamba basketball team that included Gianna Bryant and Alyssa Altobelli, reported the Los Angeles Times. She also was a basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar, roughly 40 miles south of Los Angeles.

Her husband, Matt Mauser, confirmed her death in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“My kids and I are devastated,” Mauser wrote. “We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.” 

Christina Mauser with her husband Matt

Sarah Chester, Payton Chester

Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton Chester, a middle school student, were also killed in the crash, reported ESPN and CBS News.

“Rest in Peace to the most amazing Mother and sister,” Riley Chester wrote in an Instagram post Sunday that has since been deleted. “I love you Pay Pay and Mom RIP.”

The two were remembered by Todd Schmidt, the principal at Payton’s former elementary school, as an “amazing family … engaged, supportive, encouraging, and full of mischief and laughter.”

“While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important,” Schmidt wrote. “Their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken.”

Payton Chester, left, with her mother Sarah

Ara Zobayan

Bryant’s private pilot Ara Zobayan was flying the helicopter when it crashed, reported multiple outlets. He was an instrument-rated pilot and was qualified to fly in fog, reported Fox 5 San Diego.

Zobayan’s friend Jared Yochim mourned the loss on Facebook, recalling him as an “incredible pilot … and truly great man” who was “always cool, calm and collected.”

Yochim described Zobayan’s death as a tragedy for an entire community, adding: “Ara impacted so many people and only in a positive way. I’m sorry that you never got to meet him. You would’ve loved him, I promise.”

SHOCK: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna killed along with 7 others in tragic helicopter crash

Kobe Bryant death: Latest news, updates and reactions as NBA legend dies at 41 in helicopter crash

The five-time NBA champion was one of nine people who died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles County

Brad Botkin | CBS SPORTS

Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The Los Angeles Lakers legend and five-time NBA champion was 41 years old. An investigation of the crash that killed all nine people on board, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, is ongoing, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. CBS Sports will provide the latest information confirmed, as well as social media reaction, here.

Here is what has been confirmed so far:

  • The crash happened just before 10 a.m. PT
  • Nine confirmed deaths and no survivors
  • A brush fire caused by the crash prevented first responders from immediately getting to the site

Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest players of all time, as his resume pretty much speaks for itself. His accolades include:

  • Spent 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers
  • Fourth-leading scorer in NBA history (33,643 points)
  • Five-time NBA champion, twice named Finals MVP
  • 18-time All-Star
  • 11-time All-NBA First Team
  • Nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team
  • Two-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Youngest player in NBA history at the time of his debut in 1996

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva: “We have a manifest that indicates there was nine people onboard the aircraft. The pilot plus eight individuals. There is wide speculation as who the identities are. However, it would be entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name until the coroner has made the identification through their very deliberate process and they’ve made the notifications to the next of kin. It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate so we’re not going to be going there. We’re going to wait until the coroner does their job and we’re assisting the families of those who believe they’ve been impacted and it’s a tough process.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there were nine people on the aircraft total — a pilot and eight passengers. He would not confirm who died until all the next-of-kin are notified, he said.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby: “The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s initial response was 15 pieces of apparatus and 56 personnel.”

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby: “At 9:47 a.m. the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a 911 call of a potential helicopter down and a brush fire…Upon arrival, our firefighters discovered approximately a quarter-acre brush fire that resulted from a crash on the hillside.”

This one hurt’: NBA stars and public figures grieve after Kobe Bryant’s death

Kalhan Rosenblatt | NBC SPORTS

Pro basketball players past and present flooded social media Sunday after news broke that NBA legend Kobe Bryant had died Sunday in a helicopter crash.

A call for a downed helicopter in Calabasas, California, went out at 10:01 a.m. local time, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The city of Calabasas later confirmed that Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, were among the passengers who died in the crash.

Authorities believe nine bodies were found at the scene.

Current and former NBA players shared their disbelief on social media.

Bryant’s former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal posted to Instagram to say he was sick over the news.

“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board,” O’Neal wrote.

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also a former Laker, tweeted a video saying it was hard for him to put his feelings into words.

“Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete,” Abdul-Jabbar’s tweet read.

Magic Johnson had this to say:

LeBron James was spotted in tears, hugging multiple people and walking with his head down hours following the stunning death of NBA and Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

According to video from NBC, James had just landed in Los Angeles with his teammates following a game in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia, where James passed Bryant with 33,655 points to become the third highest-scorer in NBA history.

Former Heat star Dwyane Wade tweeted, “Nooooooooooo God please No!”

Here’s an excerpt from an October 2017 article about Kobe and Draymond by Clay Skipper of GQ:

Bryant’s words, according to Green: Ninety-eight percent of people are okay with mediocrity or less. Guys like Bryant and Green, though, they’re out for something different—greatness. So, Green remembers Kobe saying, “as long as you wait for them to understand you, you’re f–ked.”

“It was the best s–t I ever heard,” Green says. “Because it gave me an understanding of why people don’t understand me. I’m so crazy competitive. I put my competitiveness up there with anyone. How could someone understand that? It’s a different level.”

NBA Players, Teams, and More Mourn and Pay Tribute to Kobe Bryant During Sunday’s Games

Column: How can Kobe Bryant be gone? His legend wasn’t supposed to end this way

BILL PLASCHKE | L.A. TIMES

Kobe Bryant is gone.

I’m screaming right now, cursing into the sky, crying into my keyboard, and I don’t care who knows it.

Kobe Bryant is gone, and those are the hardest words I’ve ever had to write for this newspaper, and I still don’t believe them as I’m writing them. I’m still crying, and go ahead, let it out. Don’t be embarrassed, cry with me, weep and wail and shout into the streets, fill a suddenly empty Los Angeles with your pain.

No. No. No, damn it, no!

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas and how does that happen? Kobe is stronger than any helicopter. He didn’t even need a helicopter. For 20 years he flew into greatness while carrying a breathless city with him.

This can’t be true.

Kobe does not die. Not now. Kobe lives into his golden years, lives long enough to see his statues erected outside Staples Center and his jerseys inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He lives long enough to sit courtside at Staples when he’s stooped and gray, keeping alive the memories of two decades of greatness with a wink, maybe even fooling everyone one last time by retiring in a community next to Shaq.

How can Mamba be dead? Mambas don’t die. Why this, why now, why him, why them? Kobe and Gianna leave behind an incredibly strong wife and mother, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born last summer. The horror of this is unspeakable. The tragedy of this is immeasurable.

Go ahead and keep crying, you won’t be alone. A huge hole has been cut out of Los Angeles’ heart, and the wound is breathtaking.

Kobe was your childhood hero. He was your adult icon. For 20 years he was on posters in your bedroom, on the television in your living room, in the lunch talk in your school cafeteria, in the smack talk at your office water cooler, and ultimately riding on a truck down Figueroa Street while you cheered and bragged and bathed in his greatness.

You watched him grow up, and this city’s relentless approach to sports grew with him, and soon, even with all of his off-court failings, many people felt they carried a little piece of him.

On your best days, the days you landed a big account or aced a big test or just survived a battle with traffic, you felt like Kobe. You were Kobe. And in the end, as he retired into a life of movies and books and coaching Gianna’s basketball team, he was us.

For me, he not only dominated my professional life, he consumed it. He arrived in Los Angeles two months before I began writing this column. We used to joke that we started our journeys together. But then he would pat me on the back and shake his head at that notion because, well, he always followed his own path.

He was the one Laker who never had an entourage, and many nights after games we would chat as I walked with him to his car. Except when he would get mad at me for what he considered unfair criticism, and then we wouldn’t talk for weeks, because when he was playing, he was that rare fighter who never dropped his fists.

I covered his first game. I covered his last game. I wrote about everything in between, the titles and the sexual assault charges and the trade demands and the titles again and then finally that 60-point career-ending game against Utah.

I screamed from press row that night, just as I’m screaming now, still shaking, still not believing.

Kobe Bryant is gone.

We just talked last week.

I emailed Kobe with a request to speak to him about being passed on the all-time scoring list by LeBron James.

He emailed me back immediately. He always did.

He cleared his calendar and made time to chat on the phone because, as he always said, “You’ve been there for everything with me.”

But then, in our 20-minute conversation, he showed a side of Kobe that I had not seen before.

The edge was gone. The arms were open. He urged acceptance of LeBron. He preached calm for Lakers fans. He said greatness wasn’t worth anything if you couldn’t share it.

After about five minutes the message of this call was clear, the steely-eyed Mamba was purposely moving into a role of a wise, embracing and grateful leader of a community that had shown him so much patience and love.

“It’s crazy, watching this city and growing with it,” he said before hanging up. “I feel such an appreciation, I can never pay the city back for what it’s given me.”

And now he’s gone. Kobe is gone. Kobe is gone.

I’ll say it 81 times and it still won’t make any sense.

Kobe Bryant is gone and, so, too, is a little bit of all of us.

GOLDEN REUNION? Iguodala on wanting Curry to sit out the rest of the season for “selfish reasons”: He’s going to come back on a wrath next year”

Andre Iguodala says Stephen Curry should sit out whole year, subtly hints at a possible Warriors reunion

Iguodala said he has ‘selfish’ reasons for wanting Curry to rest up

Brad Botkin | CBS SPORTS

The Warriors didn’t want to get rid of Andre Iguodala; they were forced to. When they made the sign-and-trade that sent Kevin Durant — who they were going to lose for nothing — to the Nets in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, the result was a hard cap of $138.9 million, meaning the Warriors could not exceed that total salary at any point during the 2019-20 season. 

Someone had to go. Iguodala, who was traded to Memphis, was the casualty. Only Iguodala didn’t want to play for Memphis, or even live there, and so a handshake deal was struck that he was only on the Grizzlies on paper. He doesn’t practice with them. He obviously doesn’t play with them. 

Memphis wants to trade Iguodala to a contender, but so far nobody has offered anything to their liking. Everyone’s hoping the Grizzlies will end up having to buy Iguodala out, at which point someone else can sign him without having to trade any assets. 

In the meantime, Iguodala is making $17.1 million to chill. Speaking on ESPN’s First Take on Friday, Iguodala said the rest he’s gotten so far this season has been a “blessing in disguise” that he believes has “added years” to his career. 

He’s staying in shape because chances are he’s going to end up playing somewhere this season (the Grizzlies are running out of time to avoid buying him out) are pretty good. He talked about the Lakers and Clippers, long rumored as two of the favorites to land Iguodala should Memphis end up buying him out. 

Iguodala also had something interesting to say about his former Warriors teammate Stephen Curry, who’s been out since the second week of the season with a broken hand but is reportedly targeting an early March return. When asked if Curry should return to play this season, here’s how Iguodala responded

“Selfish reasons, no,” Iguodala said. “I think he needs to get a real break, in terms of being able to relax. I think it’s good for him mentally to be able to step away, be able to get a nice breather. He’s going to come back on wrath next year.”

So, about next year … Is a Warriors-Iguodala reunion a possibility? Yes. We’ve known that for some time. Golden State will not be hard-capped any longer after this season and would be free to re-sign Iguodala if he would agree to a contract that fits inside their exceptions. But two words have to make you wonder if this reunion is actually more likely than just a possibility: Selfish reasons. 

Watch the video. Look at the smirk on Iguodala’s face when he says he has selfish reasons for wanting Steph Curry to sit out the rest of this season and come back fully rested next year.

What possible other selfish reasons would he have for wanting Curry to sit the rest of this season? If he ends up on a contender in a few weeks, it’s not like he’d have to worry about going against Curry in the playoffs. The Warriors have the worst record in the league. So what, then? 

Obviously nothing definitive can be extracted from an off-the-cuff comment on TV, and even if Iguodala is hoping to return to Golden State next season, a lot can happen between now and then. He could end up on a contender this season, play great, maybe win a title, and decide he wants to stay for another year. The Warriors could want to go in a different direction once their offseason takes shape — though it’s hard for me to imagine, given their salary-cap options, that they wouldn’t take Iguodala back in a heartbeat if the money worked for both sides. 

We’ll see how it shakes out. But for now, Iguodala thinks Curry should take a nice long rest this season and come back fresh. For selfish reasons.