DETROIT, MI (WOIO) - The Cavaliers took the floor at Little Caesars Arena on Monday morning for their game-day shootaround still in a haze over what happened on Sunday when a helicopter crash just outside of Los Angeles and took the lives of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old Gianna, and seven others.
The Cavs and Pistons had no choice but to prepare for their game on Monday night, even if basketball was the furthest thing from their minds.
Larry Nance Jr., a former Laker, played one season with Bryant before Kobe retired in 2016.
How much did he learn from the Lakers’ legend?
“Too much," Nance said following the shootaround. “A lot. Even without him realizing that he was teaching it to you. Just his professionalism, how to last, how to maintain in this league.”
Nance says he didn’t want to believe the news reports, and started scanning social media for “a false report, mis-identification, or something else. It just doesn’t seem real.”
Cavs forward Kevin Love was starring at UCLA in 2008, the year Kobe won his lone NBA Most Valuable Player award, and would later play alongside Bryant in All-Star Games as well as the 2012 Olympics, but he says one of his favorite memories is sitting courtside, watching Kobe play, as a kid.
Love is still trying to come to grips with the news.
“I grew up with Kobe being one of, if not my favorite player, so you automatically assume that it can’t happen to someone like that,” Love said. “You think that Kobe is invincible. You hear it, it’s confusing, it’s disbelief, it’s frustration, then that turns into tears, and then today, it’s just numbness.
"I was able and fortunate to spend a lot of time with him and his family and he’s just so much more than a basketball player to so many. He transcended the sport, he transcended the game, and he’s an icon.
“Kobe’s one of those guys that anything he touches seemingly turned into gold, and somebody that could affect the masses outside of basketball.”