With the heartbreaking news of the death of former NBA legend Kobe Bryant during a Sunday helicopter crash in California, members of the Miami Heat organization spoke out in tribute of the man the battled on the court for two decades.
Former Heat star Dwyane Wade, who faced Bryant dozens of times during their careers, was emotional in a social media post that came not long after news that Bryant – along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna – were among the nine people killed in the crash outside Los Angeles.
“It seems like a bad dream,” Wade said, fighting back tears, on his Instagram page. “I know we all feel the same way about such a great leader, such a great champion. If you got a chance to really know Kobe, ain’t nobody better.”
Team president Pat Riley issued a statement Sunday night calling Bryant a “Godsend to the world” and said the team is in mourning.
"The Lord will bless Vanessa, the entire Bryant family, and all of those who lost their most precious loved ones today,” Riley said.
Already, teams have scheduled plans to honor Bryant – including the Dallas Mavericks, who announced they would retire the No. 24 jersey to honor him.
Though the Lakers and Heat never met in the NBA Finals while Bryant played, the teams were part of an incredible run that saw at least one of the teams play in seven consecutive Finals series – with the Lakers going from 2008 to 2010 and the Heat in the four years that followed.