January 26 marked the third anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash that left several passengers dead, including Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Bryant was 41 years old at the time of his passing.
Kobe is widely-regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. But Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports that the legacy Kobe left behind extends way further than the basketball court.
“Kobe as the man was very inspirational. Very loving, and compassionate. Always had an open heart for those that wanted to follow his knowledge and wisdom. He always wanted to pass on what he learned. I was just more than grateful that I could have him as a mentor for as many years as I did,” Irving said to Scoop B after the Nets’ loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on January 25.
“That’s what it’s really about. Him as a spirit is eternal. He’s everywhere right now. Gigi is everywhere, and all of the people that transitioned that day are helping us out. So, they’re never far, so it’s constant remembrance. I’m grateful that I got to spend time with him and learn from him as a man. Him as a player, I could go on and on. So shoutout to Bean Bryant. I love you more than life itself, and I miss you a lot. Just praise up to you and Gigi.”
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Lakers Coach Makes Bold Kyrie Irving, Kobe Bryant Comparison
Irving spent the early years of his NBA career under the mentorship of Kobe. The origin of their relationship dates back to the Nets star’s rookie year when he challenged the late Hall of Famer to a game of one-on-one during a Team USA practice. From that moment, Bryant took Kyrie under his wing.
When Kyrie plays, you can see that he spent time under Kobe’s tutelage. From the way he shoots the ball to his supreme confidence on the court, the influence Bryant had on Irving’s game is obvious. Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy says that the only thing that separates Kyrie and the late Hall of Famer is height.
“If Kyrie was 6’6, you would see Kobe mirrored back at you,” Handy said via Basketball Forever’s Nick Junger in August 2022.
Kyrie Irving Wants Kobe Bryant as NBA Logo
Even before Bryant’s tragic passing in 2020, Irving was never shy about paying homage to the Laker legend. As a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP, and multi-time scoring champ, Kobe has one of the most decorated resumes in NBA history.
In 2021 Irving suggested Kobe replace Jerry West as the silhouette of the NBA logo.
“He was the standard for our generation, and he will continue on, and I want that to be something in history that is changed forever, that our generation was part of that change,” Irving said of why Kobe should be the new NBA logo in February 2021 via SNY.
“And, you know, if that means that I have to lead that forward and get the conversation going, then great. But I think he deserves it. I think his family deserves it. I think we deserve it as seeing greatness personified as Mamba. And anyone that’s coming into the league should know that that’s the example that was set. I know that it probably was met with some people that love it, love the idea, and some people that don’t like it, but my thing is paying homage to the example that has been set by that man.”
Kobe Bryant’s legacy lives on forever.