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Kobe Bryant’s death still ‘feels like a nightmare’ to Pau Gasol

Lakers, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol

When a disgruntled Kobe Bryant wanted out of Los Angeles in 2007, the Lakers understood they had to shake things up to build a championship roster around the “Black Mamba.”

On Feb. 1 of 2008, the Lakers made a splash, trading a number of players and draft picks to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for All-Star big man Pau Gasol.

Kobe finally had his wingman. Despite losing to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers would respond by winning each of the next two titles, including a revenge series against the Celtics in 2010.

Bryant and Gasol became akin to brothers. Kobe–who was fluent in Spanish–would often converse in Pau’s native language, attempting to reach him on a personal level. The duo had tremendous success together and shared incredible memories.

Which is why Gasol is still trying to come to grips with the reality that Kobe is gone:

As Pau alluded to, he vowed to carry on Bryant’s legacy, including some of Kobe’s words to live by:

Gasol also shared his condolences for the other eight victims in Sunday morning’s fatal helicopter crash, which also included Bryant’s daughter, Gianna:

The NBA community is still reeling from the news that one of the most beloved icons in NBA history is gone.

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo–who was playing in his first game in over a year on Wednesday–broke down in his postgame interview. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who regarded Bryant as a mentor, also made some heartfelt following his team’s win over the Detroit Pistons.

But as Gasol indicates, players and coaches around the league–as well as the countless ordinary citizens Kobe inspired–will keep working each day to take up the mantra of inspiring others.