Sports World Pays Tribute to Kobe Bryant on 1-Year Anniversary of His Death

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2021

People lift weights on a sidewalk outside the Hardcore Fitness gym, due to COVID-19 restrictions, under a mural honoring NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi near Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. Bryant, who became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gigi and other passengers on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

For many, Tuesday was a time for reflection as one year has passed since Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash.

Poet City James reflected on Bryant's career and legacy in a piece for B/R:

The Lakers shared a photo of Kobe and Gianna sitting courtside for a game:

Magic Johnson spoke about his connection with the 18-time All-Star:

For opposing teams and players, Bryant wasn't somebody you wanted to see on the opposite side of the court. His competitive drive and desire to win propelled him to five NBA championships, and he's fourth all-time in scoring.

The level of respect Bryant commanded from his peers is unquestioned:

Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade shared a video of Bryant joking during a press conference that Wade would be the "oldest guy in the league next year" once Kobe retired after the 2015-16 season.

Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George posted a photo of a hug he shared with Bryant: "I knew I held on tight for a reason. We miss and love you big bro! RIP to all the lives lost too soon! Mamba FOREVER!"

Lou Williams was a teammate of Bryant's for Kobe's final year. The Los Angeles Clippers guard reflected on a road game they played against the Atlanta Hawks with the Clippers due to play the Hawks on Tuesday: "Just so happens we in atl today! So we gone put on like we did the last time I was here with you. Forever in our hearts and minds.. long love the mamba"

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love wrote that Bryant's death "still doesn't seem real."

Veteran swingman J.R. Smith struck a similar tone:

"Took these days for granted. Thought i was really going to play against you forever. Appreciate the competitive nature you brought out in me, s--t can't lie i ain't know i had some of this s--t till you had out them ass whoopings an i had to figure it out. The game misses your avatar but we all know your soul is all around it. Miss you"

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr spoke about how he thinks Bryant will be remembered, per The Athletic's Bill Oram and Jovan Buha:

"I think Kobe's legacy for me is one of passion. It's not his brilliance. His brilliance was obvious. He's one of the great players in the history of the game. Probably a top-five player all time in the NBA. Everyone knows about his accomplishments, the championships, but it's the passion that he put into the game that is his legacy. He worked so hard on his game. He wanted to win so badly. He wanted to be the best so badly. And he committed to that every single day, and I think that commitment to excellence and the commitment to the actual work that it takes to achieve excellence is Kobe's true legacy."

The tributes extended beyond the NBA:

Through his performance on the court, Bryant influenced future generations of NBA players, and his legacy will have a lasting impact on the game.