CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers will play a basketball game tomorrow, at 7 p.m. against the Golden State Warriors.
They understandably didn’t field questions about that game Monday. The team instead was focused on the tragic deaths on Sunday of 41-year-old Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
After meeting as a team and sharing their personal stories about Bryant, a few Sixers also talked about Bryant with the media following practice.
GM Elton Brand on the tragic crash and on Bryant
“My condolences to [his wife] Vanessa, his family, all the families that lost their loved ones in the tragic accident yesterday. Kobe meant a lot. Kobe meant a lot to us all. It wasn’t just what he accomplished but how he accomplished it — how he worked, his tenacity, his passion, getting the most out of his talent. … We all lost someone that was special to us, special to this area, special to the league. We’ll try to commemorate him tomorrow and 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, and he will certainly be missed.”
Al Horford on his memories of Bryant
“With Kobe, the two things that really stand out to me are his competitiveness on the floor, and I told this to the group, just that fear that he used to put in his opponent's eyes. The only way you would know that is [if] you got to go and play against him. Very few players have that. He had it. He was just such a competitor and it was something that I always admire and respect. I don't want to make this about anything but to honor him. At another time, I'll share things about me and him, but right now it's just remembering him and his greatness.”
Horford on his reaction to the news
“Just disbelief. I didn't think it was true. Coming to grips with that, it's something hard to grasp. Right away, I was with my family at the time and my wife said to me, putting things in perspective, imagine how his wife feels right now, his family, so that just had us in a very tough place yesterday just thinking about that.”
Head coach Brett Brown on a story he told the team
“I had the chance a few years ago in his farewell tour to sit in my office [with him] for 45 minutes alone and just talk Philly hoops. Ironically, my son goes to Lower Merion High School, he plays for [Bryant’s] high school coach, [Gregg Downer]. The thing that came out of that for me, just sitting there talking with him, it was an easy, real conversation. He cared, he was engaged — it wasn’t something he had to do. He came back and we just talked.
“We had some friends and experiences in the Olympics and so on that we could speak about, but he talked lots about his family. He blew me away talking about — I said, ‘What’s life for you afterwards now?’ And he started talking about animation. He was really involved with animation and he had this desire to get involved with kids’ literacy, and the connections he would have had with his Hollywood and Los Angeles life. He just was in the game. Even when he was about to leave the game, he was in life, he lived it. You could see in his face, he had a glow. It was a genuine, transparent conversation.”
Brown on game planning against Bryant
“You would see, it was with like six minutes in the third period, he was just like, ‘I’m going to grab the game.’ He’d come out and be Mr. Unselfish and facilitator and kumbaya, and all of a sudden the game’s on the line … and he would just grab games. You could just see it in his face.
"So, game planning for him was as difficult as for any of the great players you’ve had to do it for. It just all goes back to that amazing mental toughness, amazing laser, assassin-like, ‘I’m going to go win this game. I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to win games.’ And he really acted and played like that.”