The Los Angeles Lakers have released an official statement on the death of NBA icon Kobe Bryant.
The 41-year-old was one of nine people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, whose lives were claimed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.
Their game against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning UK) has been postponed.
The Lakers said: “In consultation with the NBA League office, the game scheduled between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers for Tuesday, January 28 will be postponed and scheduled for a future date.
“The Los Angeles Lakers would like to thank all of you for the tremendous outpouring of support and condolences.
“This is a very difficult time for all of us. We continue to support the Bryant family and will share more information as it is available.”
Bryant spent all 20 years of his career in the NBA with the Lakers, winning five championships, two Finals MVP awards and having his No 8 and No 24 jerseys retired at Staples.
He is also the fourth highest-scoring player in the history of the league, having long been third until he was overtaken by LeBron James last week.
“The National Basketball Association game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers scheduled for Tuesday. Jan 28 at Staples Center has been postponed,” a league statement read on the cancellation of the Lakers vs Clippers.
“The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organisation, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday. The game will be rescheduled at a later date.”
On Sunday, upon hearing the news of Kobe’s tragic passing, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said: “The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning.
“He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Stars selections, and two Olympic gold medals.
“But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organisation and the entire sports world.”
Tributes poured in from across the sporting world for Kobe, who was also a two-time Olympic gold medallist and will forever be remembered as one of the game’s greatest icons.
Bryant’s former Lakers team-mate Shaq wrote on Twitter: “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant.
“I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.
“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common.
“I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”
“It’s very difficult for me to put in words how I feel about the loss of Kobe Bryant,” fellow Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, said in a video posted online.
“As a young boy, I met him when he was 11, 12 years old. I was friends with his dad, Joe.
“We were former adversaries; Joe played for the 76ers, but he was a good friend and someone that I shared a friendship [with].
“And it’s hard for me to understand now how this is affecting Joe and his wife. So to Kobe’s family I want to send my most sincere and heartfelt regrets and prayers. My thoughts are with you guys.”
“Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.
“He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.
“Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.
“Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organisation and basketball fans around the world.”
Former Lakers president and five-time champ Magic Johnson tweeted: “Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players.
“Words can’t express the impact that he had on the game of basketball.”
Just a day before Kobe’s passing, LeBron surpassed his NBA points total and paid tribute to his compatriot’s legacy.
“It’s surreal. It doesn’t make no sense,” said James.
“I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers.”
Bryant won an Oscar for his animated short film, Dear Basketball, in 2018.
The father of four children, Kobe leaves behind his wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.