The NBA lost a legend during Steph Curry's time away from the court.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash outside Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26. Curry was in the middle of a 58-game absence, rehabbing to make his way back to the Warriors when he learned the news. The 30-year-old attended Bryant's celebration of life in Los Angeles last month, sitting courtside at Stanford University later that day as Bryant's mentee, University of Oregon standout Sabrina Ionescu, became the first collegiate player to score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and dish 1,000 assists in their career.
Ionescu had Bryant on her mind that night, and Curry had the five-time champion as he pushed through the last stages of his rehab.
"We all go out and compete, and we want to win," Curry told TNT's Kristen Ledlow ahead of his return to the court Thursday against the Toronto Raptors. "You see that intensity and that fierceness come out on the court. I think that is something he embodied better than anybody, and it's given me a drive to get through this (broken hand) and not really complain about what I have going on, and just an appreciation and gratitude for what I get to do for a living every single day. ... There's no better way to honor him, honor what we get to do on a game-by-game basis and just have an appreciation for basketball at the highest level with other talented guys that love the game just like you do."
Curry, like many of his peers, grew up watching Bryant. He got the Kobe stamp of approval during his rookie season, seeing Bryant tell a teammate "Yo, he's nice" after Curry hit what he described to The Washington Post's Ben Golliver as a "shoulder shimmy off-the-glass" shot.
He kept Bryant's memory close to him as he rehabbed, and Curry undoubtedly will continue to honor his fellow two-time MVP moving forward.