The Oklahoma City Thunder joined the outpouring of sadness over the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash Sunday in Southern California.
“No words can adequately express the shock and sadness the NBA family is feeling,” The Thunder stated in a team release. “Kobe was an icon, a person who embodied greatness in so many ways. He pushed the game of basketball to new heights with a passion for the game that he shared with fans across the globe for decades. We send our thoughts and prayers to the Bryant family and all those who were lost in today’s tragedy.”
Oklahoma City mayor David Holt also released a statement about the former Los Angeles Lakers icon.
“Kobe Bryant’s arc & OKC’s intersected many times,” Holt tweeted. “He played an exhibition here in 2004, when OKC as an NBA city was a fantasy. His 2010 title run included our first playoff game. Our 2012 Finals run included his final playoff game. Later, OKC hosted his final road game.
“We’re proud of those intersections because his professional excellence inspired the world of sports. The terrible losses today remind us to love each other while we can. The people of OKC send their deepest condolences to his & Gianna’s family.”
Bryant’s final career road game took place in OKC, capping what had become a farewell tour in 2016 before his retirement. He scored 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting before an excited crowd.
The Thunder unrolled a pre-game video for Bryant’s game, and before tipoff, former Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant presented him a book of hand-written anecdotes behind closed doors. Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, has long admired Bryant.