Members of Miami Heat honor memory of Kobe Bryant, speak about superstar’s sudden death
Erik Spoelstra, Dion Waiters speak about shocking death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant
MIAMI – A 24 second moment of silence was held before the Miami Heat’s home game against the Orlando Magic on Monday, honoring the memory of fallen NBA star Kobe Bryant.
The entire basketball world was shaken in an irrevocable way Sunday afternoon after news of Bryant's death began to circulate.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed on a Calabasas hillside.
They were on their way to a youth basketball game that Bryant was coaching and his daughter was playing in.
"This has been a horrible 24 hours," said Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "As a parent, it absolutely crushes your heart."
The Heat were at the American Airlines Arena on Sunday for a scheduled practice when they heard the tragic news.
"We found out about it as we were leaving the building yesterday after practice," said Spoelstra. "I immediately went home and spent the time with my family."
Spoelstra said he and his family were glued to the TV for hours watching coverage of Bryant's death.
"It just got worse and worse," he said. "You think about the families on the helicopter, not just Kobe and his daughter, which is just so heartbreaking, thinking about the three kids and Vanessa he leaves behind, but the coach and his family, and the other families on the helicopter, it just makes no sense."
Spoelstra discussed spending time with Pat Riley and Nick Arison after arriving the the AAA on Monday, telling tales of their memories with Bryant.
"Our hearts go out to all the families," he said. "I think we can all relate to that, as parents. It's just absolutely tragic and heartbreaking."
Several Heat players did what they could to honor Bryant during Monday's game, handwriting messages on their sneakers.
Derrick Jones Jr’s sneakers tonight with the RIP Kobe. pic.twitter.com/AXEGPibQCA— Will Manso (@WillManso) January 27, 2020
During pregame media availability in the Heat locker room, guard Dion Waiters spoke about the superstar’s death.
"It kept hitting me last night," Waiters said. "I had to get out of the house. I was just crying, nonstop. I don’t know, it just hit me different."
Waiters is a native of Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and, like Kobe, is a father of young daughters.
Both also shared the unique experience of being an NBA first round pick, though they were selected 16 years apart.
"When I first got into the league, I reached out to him," Waiters explained. "He texted right back. He told me to do the little things and what to expect, what to do, and just try and maintain. He didn't have to do that. It was a great thing for me, it was a great feeling.
“A guy of that stature, just being able to reach back to a guy coming in, it meant everything.”
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