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Larry Bird issues statement on shocking death of Lakers great Kobe Bryant

Larry Bird, Lakers, Kobe Bryant

Former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird released a statement following the loss of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday.

Bird stated that the Lakers icon should be remembered not only for his prowess on the basketball floor, but also for the “many intellectual and creative talents” he possessed.

Bryant was killed in a tragic helicopter accident that also took the life of his daughter, Gianna, as well as seven other passengers, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. Authorities are still investigating the incident.

Bird, much like Michael Jordan, reveled in Bryant’s competitive nature during his playing days. During a 2012 interview with Bill Simmons, Bird said he would have wanted to play alongside Kobe (via ESPN):

“Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that … well, of course he wouldn’t have been shooting as much as he does now … but his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he’s just, he’s just tough,” Bird said when asked to choose any current player that he’d like to play a season with.

“He’s just a tough cat.”

The respect was mutual as far as Bryant was concerned. Lakers-Celtics rivalry be damned, Bryant looked at Bird’s drive as a model for how to play the game with passion and desire:

“As a kid, listening to that, listening to that interview I said, ‘You know what? That’s how I need to be. I need to have that. That’s how I should be.’ So, that was kind of an inspiration for me. Even though I hated the Celtics, I admired Bird for his work ethic and for his determination. So, to hear those comments come from him now is great,” Kobe said in the same 2012 ESPN interview.

Moreover, as Larry Bird remembered Kobe Bryant on Sunday, he also took the time to recognize the Lakers legend as an individual who influenced people all around the world.