Jared Dudley recalls Lakers’ immediate reaction to Kobe Bryant’s death
Speaking to Michael Lee of The Athletic, the Lakers veteran shared how shocked he and the rest of the team were when they first learned about Kobe’s accident.
“And now, the next morning, we leave at 8 o’clock our time, I think it’s 11 o’clock their time,” Dudley recalls. “He crashed around 9:30, 9:45, and we’re sleep. It’s the only time all year that the whole team fell asleep on the plane, because obviously [the game vs the Philadelphia 76ers the previous evening] was late, we got back to the hotel around 1 or 2. Our bus was at like 9 in the morning, the earliest it had ever been. We get to the airport at 10 and so usually guys play cards, watch movies. But guys are still so tired, everyone is sleep and next thing you know, people are waking people up. And when I got woke up, ‘Jared, wake up, Kobe died.’ It wasn’t, ‘What’s going on?’ It’s ‘Hey, Kobe died. Helicopter crash.’ I’m trying to register. Yeah, I know he takes helicopters everywhere, is this real, is this a joke? And I look around. I see LeBron on his phone. AD on his phone. And now I start waking people up.”
There was a lot of confusion early on, with all sorts of different information coming through.
“And we’re trying to find out,” he added. “So the media relations come back and she’s trying to confirm. So once I see TMZ confirm it, it’s like, “Wow.” TMZ, they’re like 99.9 percent. They don’t put their neck out there unless they’re for sure.And then I start seeing reports Rick Fox could be in it, his whole family, and I’m like, ‘C’mon Lord.’ It can’t be (Kobe’s) daughters. He can’t leave his wife by herself. And then when you find out it’s Kobe and his daughter (Gianna). It was just tears. It was emotional.”
It has been over a couple of months now since the Lakers legend’s death, and narratives such as this just remind all of us that the wounds still remain fresh.