NBA

Kobe Bryant dead: Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson reacts as Empire State Building lights up for NBA great

By Sports Desk January 28, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers fan and famous actor Jack Nicholson said "it kills you" as he remembered Kobe Bryant after his tragic death.

Lakers great Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

A man synonymous with the Lakers, Oscar Award-winning actor Nicholson has long been a regular courtside at Staples Center, watching Bryant up close and personal during his 20-year career in Los Angeles.

Reacting to the death of five-time NBA champion and 2008 MVP Bryant, Nicholson told KCBS: "My reaction is the same as almost all of L.A. You just suddenly, where everything was solid, there's a big hole in the wall.

"I was just so used to seeing and talking to Kobe. It kills you. It's just a terrible event."

"We'll think of him all the time, and we'll miss him," Nicholson continued. "He was just one of those touched people… I sat right behind his jump shot on the left-hand side. I can see him going up, and I can tell the first instant if it was in."

Nicholson, 82, added: "I remember in totality just how great a player he was. But you know, I teased him the first time we met. It was in [Madison Square] Garden in New York, and I offered him a basketball and asked him, did he want me to autograph it for him? He looked at me like I was crazy."

Meanwhile, iconic New York City building – the Empire State Building – lit up in purple and gold in tribute to the 18-time All-Star on Monday.

"Our lights will shine in purple and gold this evening as we pay tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, an inspiration to millions across the globe who was taken too soon. Our hearts go out to all of the families, friends, and fans affected by this tragedy," the official Twitter account tweeted.

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