Celtics react to tragic death of Kobe Bryant

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The NBA world was in shock on Sunday afternoon after news surfaced that Kobe Bryant and one of his daughters were among the nine people that had passed away following a helicopter crash in California. Bryant's daughter Gianna and a teammate on her travel basketball team were traveling with Kobe and another parent to a basketball tournament when the copter reportedly crashed, as first reported by TMZ Sports.

Bryant, 41, was an idol growing up for several members of the Celtics and the team canceled pregame media availability with players just hours after the news of Bryant's death surfaced. However, several players took to social media to pay tribute to him and Brad Stevens spoke before the game about the future Hall of Famer.

“Probably found out same time everybody else did,” Stevens said. “Super sad. Ultimate competitor, great for the game, loved the game. My favorite part has been watching him transition as a dad to a coach and those kind of things. So, really hard.”

Stevens later added: “These guys --the way that I describe it, being a 43-year-old is Kobe is their Jordan. I just said that he’s one of the guys that probably broke the hearts of the Celtics more than anybody that’s ever played. In his last year our guys were all sneaking around getting his shoes signed and everything else, just like everybody else, right? I know a lot of our staff did, too. It’s so sad.”

The Celtics and Pelicans will pay tribute to Bryant with a 24-second violation by each team at the start of the game, following the lead of several squads across the league on Sunday.

Jayson Tatum spent the summer of 2018 working on his game with Bryant and has called Bryant his idol while growing up.

Grant Williams

Marcus Smart

Statement from the team:

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, and his love of the sport inspired countless fans and players around the world. Our fans were fortunate to watch him as he contributed many memorable chapters to the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, which he treasured. We extend our deepest condolences to Kobe’s family, fans, and the entire Lakers organization, as well as all of the victims and families affected by this horrible tragedy.