PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former 76er Allen Iverson and Sixers General Manager Elton Brand are among the former and current athletes left heartbroken following the tragic news of Philadelphia native, basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s death. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog that grounded other helicopters in Southern California on Sunday morning, CBS Los Angeles reports.
How the Sixers will honor Bryant remains to be seen. Those conversations are ongoing within the team but they did reveal one specific way they plan to keep Kobe’s memory alive.
For seven years, Elton Brand shared the Staples Center with Bryant and the Lakers.
The Sixers’ General Manager, a former Los Angeles Clipper, was emotional speaking about his colleague’s powerful pull on the NBA and his hometown.
“His Philly roots — we lost someone special to us and the league. We’ll try to commemorate him tomorrow and show how much this area loved him,” Brand said Monday.
Head coach Brett Brown says because everything has happened so quickly, the team will discuss what they’ll do to honor Kobe before Tuesday’s home game with Golden State.
But once the ball is tipped, Brown expects his players to adopt the “Mamba mentality.”
“The spirit in which he lived in life and how he competed might be the sort of connection of moving forward, just moving on,” Brown said.
“Basketball has always been a peaceful place for me,” Tobias Harris said. “Practicing today was relaxing for me to get out there. And I believe it was the exact same thing for Kobe when he played.”
The team went in circles sharing personal stories about Bryant before practice Tuesday.
Harris called Bryant his idol and the person he molded his game after.
“Everybody expressed their memories of him and interactions, and it was a good dialogue,” Harris said.
Allen Iverson expressed his emotions in an Instagram post, saying the only words that come to his head were “devastated and heartbroken.”
“I cannot seem to shake this feeling no matter what I’ve tried to do since hearing this yesterday,” Iverson wrote. “People will always remember how we competed against each other in the league, but it goes much deeper than that for me. The story of us being drafted in arguably the deepest class of its kind ever in the history of the NBA can be debated for many years to come. However, his generosity and respect for the game is something that I witnessed first-hand every time we stepped on the dance floor to compete.”
Iverson went on to talk about a memory from their rookie season. It was Iverson’s first trip to Los Angeles and Kobe picked him up at his hotel and took him to dinner. After dinner, he asked Iverson what he was going to do that night.
Iverson replied “I’m going to the club, what are you going to do?”
Kobe’s response? “I’m going to the gym.”
Iverson says Kobe was a true student of the game of basketball and life and prepared “relentlessly.”
In a press conference on Monday, Brand noted how Kobe was determined to get the most out of his talent.
“I wanted to make a statement about the tragic loss of Kobe yesterday, his daughter Gigi, everyone who lost their lives on the helicopter,” Brand said. “My condolences to Vanessa, his family, and all the families who lost a loved one in that tragic accident, yesterday. Kobe meant a lot to us. It wasn’t just what he accomplished but how he accomplished it. His hard work, his tenacity, his passion, getting the most out of his talent. His Philadelphia roots, we lost someone that was special to us, special to the area, special to the league. We will try to commemorate him tomorrow, hopefully show how much this area loved him and continue to do so. It’s a tough time for the area, tough time for the organization. He will certainly be missed. With that I would like to thank everyone for coming but it’s a tough time for us and I’m sure the Lakers organization. I can’t fathom what they are going through today.”
His sudden death at age 41 touched off an outpouring of grief for a star whose celebrity transcended basketball.
Current and former athletes from every corner of the sports world took to social media to mourn the NBA legend.
Sixers legend Julius Erving, better known as “Dr. J,” wrote, “Sadly absorbing the tragic news about my teammates loss of his Son and granddaugher. Joe and Pam I humble offer my condolences. Vanessa so sorry for your loss and pray you remain strong and focused on you and Kobe’s dreams for your family. Here Always for you…”
Sadly absorbing the tragic news about my teammates loss of his Son and granddaughter. Joe and Pam I humbly offer my condolences. Vanessa so sorry for your loss and pray you remain strong and focused on you and Kobe’s dreams for your family. Here Always for you…
— Julius Dr J Erving (@JuliusErving) January 26, 2020
Bryant’s talent and career inspired so many — including Sixers guard Ben Simmons.
“The world lost a legend today. Kobe Bryant was someone who I looked up to, a fierce competitor, a Champion, an icon,” Simmons wrote in a Twitter thread. “His dominance and relentless spirit translated both on and off the court. Your fans across the world loved you with such passion and you never let them down. 1/3.”
The world lost a legend today. Kobe Bryant was someone who I looked up to, a fierce competitor, a Champion, an icon. His dominance and relentless spirit translated both on and off the court. Your fans across the world loved you with such passion and you never let them down. 1/3
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) January 27, 2020
“To lose both you and your daughter Gigi in this tragic accident has shaken me to my core. My thoughts and prayers are with Bryant Family and his close Friends in this extremely hard time, I am truly sorry for your loss,” the tread continued. “You were and will continue to be an inspiration to this world and drive people to follow their dreams with passion and conviction #MambaForever.”
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) January 27, 2020
The Wells Fargo Center will honor Bryant Monday night by turning all of their lights purple.
CBS3’s Dan Koob contributed to this report.