Jay-Z is opening up about the final conversation he had with Kobe Bryant just weeks before the NBA star's untimely death. "'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said Bryant told him as they celebrated New Year's at the hip hop mogul's home.
"So Kobe was a guy that looked up to me and we've hung out multiple times," Jay-Z responded. "He was last in my house on New Year's and he was just in the greatest space I've seen him in and one of the last things he said to me was, 'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said. The rapper continued: "That was one of the most hurtful things because he was so proud. The look on his face...I looked at him and said, 'Oh she's going to be the best female basketball player in the world.' He was just so proud of what he said. That was a tough one. My wife and I are taking that really tough."
Joe Favorito: Tearful @NancyLieberman told story of how #kobebryant called her #mamamamba & asked her to come train his daughter Saturday night prior to crash. Told Diana Munson she will be a role model for the family over time . #munsondinner #SportsBiz
James, voted as an All-Star captain, will lead his team Feb. 16 against the squad selected by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, the league's reigning MVP. James said the league contacted him last week, looping him into plans to have one team wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant and one team wear No. 2 in honor of Gianna, who was a budding basketball star herself as a 13-year-old. "They asked me which number did I want to wear, the 24 or 2 for my team, and I picked 2," James said Monday.
Why No. 2 and not the No. 24 for his former Olympic teammate, contemporary competitor and the man he is tasked with taking the torch from as the next great superstar for the Lakers? "Zhuri," James said. Zhuri Nova is James' 5-year-old daughter. Before James changed his Instagram profile picture to a photograph of Bryant holding Gianna in his arms after the Lakers' championship win in Orlando, Florida, in 2009, James' profile pic was a photo of Zhuri with a big smile.
NBC Sports Chicago: You also announced plans for Team LeBron (James) to wear No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) to wear No. 24 to honor Gianna and Kobe Bryant’s numbers, as well as jersey patches with nine stars to honor all victims. Some had suggested having one team wear Kobe’s No. 8 and the other wear Kobe’s No. 24. But this gesture had to touch all families involved, as well as current players? Adam Silver: It’s celebratory but emotional. This is what makes these great athletes such special people too. I think what we forget sometimes as fans is that this is a very public mourning period.
NBC Sports Chicago: What have you seen from the NBA community from David’s passing to Kobe’s, which is hard for anybody to wrap their mind around? Adam Silver: It’s a reminder of how strong this family is. From team owners, former team owners, players, former players, executives at the league and teams and even alumni, it feels like a family organization. During difficult times, a family comes together. I’ve been really moved this week by the outpouring of support for not just Kobe’s family but the families of the other victims of that helicopter crash. I’ve been moved by the players’ desire to memorialize Kobe and his daughter at the All-Star game and the events that are now coming together — and also by those who want to make sure that we recognize David Stern at an otherwise celebratory occasion like All-Star weekend.
NBC Sports Chicago: You cited the celebratory nature of All-Star weekend. How do you as commissioner and as a league try to strike the proper balance between that while also honoring the legacies of Stern and Bryant? Adam Silver: By remaining authentic and not trying to force anything. By putting in place the platform both for memorializing but also celebrating and letting these events play out in their own way. That’s what I’ve learned over many years here. You don’t want to try to overproduce these events. I have no doubt that there will be spontaneous moments. I think some things we are planning may fall flat or not have the desired impact. But other small moments that we would’ve never anticipated would have the consequences they do will invariably end up being the most memorable moments of the weekend.
Vanessa Bryant: Seeing my babygirl smile and happy again with a basketball 🏀 under her arm, wrapped in 💜💛love just warmed my heart. Thank you for this. @_vivalareina thank you!! My Gigi.❤️ #Mambacita
Two hours before the scheduled tipoff, a team official walks toward two unoccupied courtside seats directly opposite the Lakers' bench and drapes Bryant's No. 24 Lakers uniform over one and Gianna's No. 2 Mamba Academy jersey over the other. Another official tells a pair of nearby security guards that they are not to leave their posts unless someone relieves them.
CBS This Morning: Basketball fans in the Philippines painted a giant mural of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna inside a neighborhood basketball court in Manila as tribute to the @Lakers legend. http://cbsn.ws/2RYRD8K
The NBA plans to carry on Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna's, legacy. On Friday afternoon, the organization announced they will be making a joint donation of $100,000 with the National Basketball Player Association to the MambaOnThree Foundation.
The NBA, NBPA and Nike announced today that the 2020 NBA All-Star uniforms will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and their seven friends and teammates who tragically passed away in last Sunday’s helicopter accident. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will feature Team LeBron (James) wearing the No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) wearing the No. 24 – Gianna and Kobe’s basketball jersey numbers, respectively.
In addition, both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing those who lost their lives in the crash, including John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan. The players will wear the jerseys during the NBA All-Star Game at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. ET.
On Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET, the league’s best rookies and sophomores will take the court during NBA Rising Stars, all wearing jersey patches featuring the Nos. 2 and 24 in the center surrounded by nine stars. The same patch will be worn by the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night participants competing in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and AT&T Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.
Fred Katz: Former Laker Moe Wagner on Kobe: “It was a weird weird tough weekend. I’m not gonna lie. It hit me harder than I can describe.” Says he‘d attended Gigi’s team practice before. “Life is precious. You gotta appreciate every second. I called my loved ones & told them I loved them”
After flying in after their loss in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the Sacramento Kings didn’t get settled in L.A. until 2 a.m. on Thursday, so that’s when Luke Walton visited the larger-than-life shrine that has grown in memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant outside Staples Center at L.A. Live. “It was emotional,” said Walton, the Kings coach who played with Kobe for nine seasons and won two NBA titles with him on the Lakers. “There were people at 2 in the morning … they were chanting. There was a group of people chanting ‘Kooo-beeee.’ Two in the morning. And you’re looking around and, again, seeing how many people he touched, and the flowers and the candles and the messages and the handwritten notes. It was an emotional setting.”
Pau Gasol: #RIPmybrother #RIPGigi #RIPJohnAltobelli #RIPKeriAltobelli #RIPAlyssaAltobelli #RIPSarahChester #RIPPaytonChester #RIPChristinaMauser #RIPAraZobayan
Vanessa Bryant: My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them.
Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, made a first public acknowledgment Wednesday since the death of her husband and one of their children, changing the profile photo on her Instagram account to one of the basketball legend and their 13-year-old daughter sharing a tender moment.
Vanessa Bryant has not publicly spoken or released a statement. After the crash she made her Instagram page private. Wednesday it was public again with a new profile image.
When the trio huddled at that Dec. 29 game at Staples, Gianna excitedly told the story of how she “did the Shammgod on this girl” in a recent game. “She was so locked in,” Shammgod said. “Her mind-set was just like his mind-set.” That was evident in a 2019 glimpse of Gianna on camera with the Las Vegas CBS affiliate during a trip to watch that season’s opener for the W.N.B.A.’s Las Vegas Aces. Explaining her fascination with film study, Gigi could not have sounded much more like her father when she said, “More information, more inspiration.”
Shams Charania: Lakers guard Quinn Cook is changing his number from No. 2 to No. 28 to honor Gianna Bryant, combining Gigi's No. 2 and Kobe's No. 8, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Farbod Esnaashari: The banner backstage at STAPLES Center now reads: "Rest in Paradise Kobe and Gigi." It's all starting to feel real now.
The bodies of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others who died in a helicopter crash have been recovered from a Calabasas hillside, coroner officials said Tuesday. Authorities on Sunday removed the bodies of at least three victims from the wreckage. Remains of the six remaining victims were located Monday, and their bodies have been taken to the Los Angeles County coroner’s forensic science center, where officials will work to identify them.
Anthony Puccio: (1/3): I spoke with @Spencer Dinwiddie and he explained why he chose the number 26. “It’s an obvious choice, I kept coming to that number, but here’s why... They passed on the 26th. 24 and 2 are their numbers; 2+ 6 is 8. I’m 26 currently.”
In heavy fog and with no radio connection to the controller, likely blocked by the mountains in low altitude, the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. “This was totally avoidable, and on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible,’’ said Robert Ditchey, a longtime airplane pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive who lives in Los Angeles. “Here’s one of the most important people in the world who comes to a tragic end like this and you say, ‘Why? What the hell happened?’
“They’re in the fog, and you’re down hugging the ground trying to fly up the highway and barely able to see it,’’ Ditchey said. “He’s down only 100 feet or so above the ground. In that area of the San Fernando Valley you have mountains on either side of you … and the clouds have obscured them, and you don’t have that much room to maneuver.’’ Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the precise conditions when the crash occurred are still under investigation, but he acknowledged there was “an issue with visibility and a low ceiling’’ on Sunday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday officials with the coroner's office were recovering remains from the hilly crash scene. "It's a very difficult task. It's going to take a while " Villanueva said.
Gordon appeared close to tears as he spoke to reporters Sunday night. “It’s sad,” Gordon said. “Personally and selfishly, I don’t get to develop a relationship with him that I knew was going to be something special. It’s just sad for him and his family and Gigi (Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter) as well. I really don’t know what to say.”
Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 MVP and WNBA champion, said Gigi was "symbolic of his legacy, and also the future of women's basketball." Gigi had become a big fan of 11-time national champion UConn, and she went to Huskies games with her father, including UConn's senior day in 2019 for Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. Samuelson said Bryant sent her a text after that game. "He recorded me walking out with my dad," Samuelson said. "He said he had to get that moment, because he knew he'd be a wreck if it was him."
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird sat next to Bryant and Gigi at the WNBA All-Star Game last July in Las Vegas. The four-time Olympic gold medalist -- at the game with girlfriend and U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe -- was sidelined with a knee injury. They got a chance to chat with Bryant and Gigi while watching many of the best women's basketball players in the world. "He just really wanted to expose Gigi to as much greatness as he could," Bird said. "He wanted her to meet Megan, to meet me. I know he's taken his whole family to Megan's soccer games. He's been very present in the WNBA. He was going on this journey with his daughter, and I think we could all feel that it was going somewhere special. For him as a father, for her as a future basketball player, for them in that father-daughter relationship."
However, Terry has also taken on a prominent role in coaching youth girls basketball and his daughters. He spoke on the broadcast about the impact Gianna Bryant had on them. “[Gianna] was a walking image [of Kobe Bryant]. I watched her shoot one of her last 3-point shots, it was right in front of me and it was the same body mannerisms. She had it, she embodied it and she was the same competitor,” Terry said. “It was funny. Before I came to work today, my youngest is in the driveway shooting baskets. My second-youngest now tells me she’s gonna now play basketball. And that’s because of GiGi. They don’t know Kobe. They know GiGi."
Kobe Bryant had already made plans for his daughter, Gianna -- AKA GiGi -- to follow in his legendary footsteps by filing to trademark her very own hoops nickname. TMZ Sports obtained the paperwork Kobe filed for "Mambacita" on Dec. 30, 2019. Of course, the name is both a tip of the hat to GiGi's father -- the Black Mamba -- and also to her own growing prowess on the hardcourt. According to the docs ... the plan was to put "Mambacita" on all sorts of sportswear -- shirts, shorts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies.
Trae Young fought back tears as he spoke about the last conversation he had with Kobe. He said Kobe told him he was proud of how much he's seen his game progress, and to continue to be a role model for kids growing up and for Gigi.
In our short conversations that day, we talked about Gianna and her love of basketball. We joked about how much more hectic our lives had gotten with the addition of more kids. His youngest daughter, Capri, was born last June, one month after my second son. When I chastised him for not coming around Lakers games more often, he said, “I’ve been busy chasing these four kids around.”
Saturday was the final time Young spoke to Kobe and Gianna. A source told The Athletic prior to the Hawks’ game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night that Kobe and Gianna FaceTimed with Young on Saturday to congratulate him for being named a starter in the All-Star Game. Young didn’t want to divulge all of the details of their conversation but did confirm that he spoke with the father-daughter duo the day before they tragically died, alongside seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“One of the last conversations we had, man, he was just telling me how he’s seen my game progress,” Young said before he paused for eight seconds as he choked up. “He was just happy for me. He was saying how proud he was of me and how he wants to continue seeing me be a role model for kids growing up and just for Gigi and all of the kids looking up to me and continue to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out. That was one of the last things he said to me.”
Gianna told Young how much she loved watching him play and how big of a fan she was of the Hawks’ point guard. Young told her he made it a point to watch her highlights on YouTube and Twitter. She admired Young so much that she wanted to train how he trains. It didn’t matter that her father was one of the best basketball players of all time; she wanted to be like Young. So, Gianna started training with Alex Bazzell, Young’s trainer during the offseason, in addition to her lessons from dad. Young went to one of Bryant’s camps while he was in high school. But Young’s relationship with Kobe only started blossoming in the past two years as Gianna started idolizing Young.
As Gigi grew into a young teenager, her love for basketball transcended watching her dad. She began playing competitive ball year-round, with her father helping to coach her team. During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel’s television show recently, Kobe said of Gigi that she “for sure” wanted to play in the WNBA someday. “The best thing that happens is when we go out and she’ll be standing next to me and fans will come up to me like ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy, you and (Vanessa) gotta have a boy — somebody to carry on the legacy and the tradition’ and (Gigi) will be like ‘Oy, I got this. We don’t need a boy for that. I got this!'”
Rick Fox: Kobe and Gianna may your souls and the souls of the others who were with you Rest In Peace. My condolences and prayers go out to Kobe’s wife Vanessa, his daughters and the Bryant Family. I Love You Kobe and will miss you dearly.
Clint Capela: Not into the debates. Each generation claims their 🐐. He was ours. RIP Kobe 🐐 and Gianna. Condolences to his wife and daughters 💔
Brad Turner: Jerry West on Kobe's death: "I want to go to bed and hope it’s a bad dream. It’s going to take a while for me to get over this one. I’m pretty good at getting over things because I understand how fragile life is. But Oh my God!. His daughter with him. My God!” This is not easy.”
Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak released the following statement on the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna: “I’m deeply saddened and shocked by today’s tragic news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. I had the privilege of witnessing up close, from start to finish, Kobe’s remarkable 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. His accomplishments were truly extraordinary – a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBA MVP – and he will be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats.”
Pat Riley: Pat Riley statement: "Kobe Bryant was a Godsend to this world; not just to the NBA, but to all those who hold dear and cherish family, friends and faith. Today I mourn the tremendous loss of Kobe, his daughter, Gianna, and the other passengers. The Lord will bless Vanessa, the entire Bryant family, and all of those who lost their most precious loved ones today.”
Harrison Barnes: This is heartbreaking....can’t even put it into words....anyone that knows me knows how much Kobe means to me....blessed to have been able to call you a brother 🙏🏾 Rest in Power Mamba and Gigi. Praying for Vanessa, the kids and your whole family.
Magic Johnson: As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/X2vF0M0a1u
Derek Fisher: Struggling to process what is now a reality. Kobe’s life after basketball was just beginning and his second act was going to be even greater. His legacy, Gigi’s legacy both will live on forever!
Jared Weiss: Celtics on Kobe: "There are no words that can convey the heartbreak the entire Celtics organization feels in the wake of the terrible loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was one of the greatest talents and competitors to ever play basketball..."
Barack Obama: Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
Shams Charania: The NBA has sent email to its employees confirming the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, @TheAthletic @Stadium has been told.
Thaddeus Young: I'm so sad right now! Not Kobe and Gigi! This is so tragic! Tomorrow isn't promised by any means! One of the many reasons why I kiss and hug my wife and kids everyday I'm home and before walking out the door. #RIPKobeBryant
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.
Kobe's daughter Gianna Maria Onore -- aka GiGi -- was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash ... reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.We're told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.
August 13, 2022 | 9:32 pm EDT Update
Draymond Green: That’s the power of your voice Young! Let’s goooo! Bring the fam to the crib for dinner after
USA Basketball has picked its 12-man roster for the opening second-round window of World Cup qualifying, as the Americans look to move closer to clinching a spot in the field for next year’s event. Jim Boylen will return as coach, assisted again by Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.
The roster will include six players — Michael Frazier II, Langston Galloway, David Stockton, DaQuan Jeffries, John Jenkins and Eric Mika — who were with the Americans for the previous qualifying window in July. The other six players for games Aug. 25 in Las Vegas against Uruguay and at Colombia on Aug. 29 are Tyler Cavanaugh, Malik Ellison, Dewan Hernandez, Mac McClung, Robert Woodard II and McKinley Wright IV.
August 13, 2022 | 7:37 pm EDT Update
The Warriors can pass on an extension for Poole if they choose, allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer. If he gets there, one league executive speculates that we can expect at least one team with cap space to be ready to pounce. “I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports.
“LeBron James has not done enough as a Laker to be on that list,” Jefferson said. “Bron been there now — this is his fourth season, right? They’ve been in there four seasons. Two years, they haven’t made the postseason. One year, they lost in the first round. And one year, they won a championship.”
Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week, league sources tell me. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.Substack.com
August 13, 2022 | 5:50 pm EDT Update
“It was just like a shock, but not too much of a shock,” Will Barton said when asked his reaction to the trade. “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”