Barack Obama Reflects on Kobe Bryant's Death at NBA All-Star Weekend

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2020

The retired jerseys of late Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant hangs above the arena prior to an NBA game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

As part of the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities, former President Barack Obama reflected on the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant

Speaking at the NBA All-Star Weekend Newsmaker Brunch, Obama said Bryant's death is "something that I know many are still grappling with."

Obama and Bryant had a friendly relationship off the court, with CNN's David Axelrod sharing a story about the time the Los Angeles Lakers legend was invited to Washington D.C. for a pickup game to celebrate Obama's 49th birthday in 2010:

"Widely known as a tenacious defender, Bryant was jokingly offended that no one was guarding the game's host, and the President was having his way. So, Kobe called two of the NBA stars over for a little, good-natured tongue-lashing.

"'You and you!' he said, pointing to Chris Paul and Derek Fisher, two of the league's most notorious ball hawkers. 'The two meanest little MFs in the league and you won't get within seven feet of that guy. Come on, y'all, play some ball!'"

The NBA is celebrating Bryant's memory this weekend in Chicago. Everyone on Giannis Antetokounmpo's team will wear jersey No. 24 in honor of Kobe. LeBron James' team will wear No. 2 in honor of Gianna Bryant. 

Both jerseys will also feature a patch with nine stars in memory of the nine people who died in the helicopter crash on Jan. 26, including Kobe and Gianna. Sunday's All-Star Game will be decided by a target score determined by taking the winning team's point total in the first three quarters and adding 24. 

Obama has been taking part in the NBA All-Star festivities, greeting players in Friday's Rising Stars Game during an NBA Cares event. 

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