There aren’t words.
Kobe Bryant passed away early on Sunday along at 41 with his 13-year-old daughter in Los Angeles. The world stopped, teams took 24 and eight-second violations to honor his two uniform numbers from his legendary two-decade that only ended two years ago. The Mavericks decided to pull No. 24 from circulation immediately.
Whether fans inspired to play by Bryant, former opponents who furiously tried to stop him or simply adherents to a culture he created the news rocked nearly everyone. His second career barely began, as a father and entrepreneur and despite the difficulties it presented the NBA played on, including the Pelicans and Celtics that night.
Here’s how the Celtics and Pelicans remembered him after.
Brad Stevens: “He broke the hearts of the Celtics many times.”
Stevens coached against Bryant six times and spoke briefly with him. He remembered his best friend getting recruited by Kobe’s dad, playing a quick pickup game with him, and telling Stevens he faced the best teenager ever.
Gordon Hayward: “My stomach is still hurting. It was hard to play today. Mentally, there were a lot of guys that weren’t themselves.”
Jaylen Brown: “I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I was at ... I stole his free throw routine.”
Marcus Smart: “Words can’t even explain.”
Kemba Walker: “I’m pretty sure Kobe would want us to play ... I just had so much respect for him.”
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry: “His name is synonymous with a franchise.”