Nick Kyrgios paid tribute to Kobe Bryant before his Australian Open fourth-round clash with Rafael Nadal on Monday.

The Australian, a huge basketball fan, wore a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with the number eight Bryant made famous to begin his career.

A visibly emotional Kyrgios received a fine ovation as he entered Rod Laver Arena in the jersey.

Lakers great Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

The sporting world celebrated and mourned Bryant after his shock death.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were among the football stars paying their respects, while the NBA world mourned Bryant's passing.

The NBA came together to mourn and honour Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on a solemn Sunday.

Though all eight games went ahead as scheduled, a dark shadow clouded the on-court action after Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, 13-year-old Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California around 10am local time.

Games across the league began with intentional 24-second violations as players recognised the number Bryant wore throughout the second half of his illustrious career, a number Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his team would never use again.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young took to the floor in the number eight jersey the five-time NBA champion adopted following his arrival at the Lakers in 1996 and proceeded to do him proud, dropping 45 points and 14 assists in a 152-133 win over the Washington Wizards.

"One of the last conversations we had, he was just telling me how much he's seen my game progress, being happy for me, saying how proud he was of me and how he wants me to continue to be a role model for kids growing up," an emotional Young later told a news conference.

The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Toronto Raptors 110-106 but head coach Gregg Popovich summed up the mood, telling reporters: "Good game. Tough loss. Who cares? Everyone's pretty emotional with the tragedy about Kobe."

Zion reflects after major milestone

Amid the mourning emerged some uplifting performances befitting one of the league's greatest ever scorers.

Zion Williamson marked his third NBA appearance with a first double-double, the number one overall draft pick contributing 21 points and 11 rebounds in the New Orleans Pelicans' 123-108 victory against the Boston Celtics.

"Kobe meant a lot to me growing up. I had both jerseys, the eight and the 24," Williamson said. "It's tough. I was on the way to the arena when I got the news. I just send my prayers to his family."

Damian Lillard became the first player in Portland Trail Blazers history to score 40 or more points in three successive games, the point guard hitting 50 on 14-of-23 shooting in a 139-129 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Kawhi Leonard put up a game-high 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers past the Orlando Magic 112-97.

"I know he would have wanted him me to come out here and try to ball and still just be great," he told ESPN. "That's what I tried to do. Everybody is sad."

Kyrie sits out

Madison Square Garden, where Bryant memorably scored 61 points in a single game in 2009, dimmed its lights and fell silent before the Brooklyn Nets' 110-97 loss to the New York Knicks.

Kyrie Irving was a notable absentee, the Nets guard having shared a close relationship with his former mentor.

Another of the NBA's new generation of stars, Ben Simmons, said the world had "lost a legend".

"Kobe Bryant was someone who I looked up to, a fierce competitor, a champion, an icon," Simmons tweeted.

 

Respects paid in New Orleans

The Pelicans and the Celtics were among the teams who each took 24-second violations to honour Bryant.

Sunday's results

Denver Nuggets 117-110 Houston Rockets
Toronto Raptors 110-106 San Antonio Spurs
Atlanta Hawks 152-133 Washington Wizards
Memphis Grizzlies 114-109 Phoenix Suns
New Orleans Pelicans 123-108 Boston Celtics
New York Knicks 110-97 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 112-97 Orlando Magic
Portland Trail Blazers 139-129 Indiana Pacers

 

Rockets at Jazz

Monday brings the chance to focus on a big game in the Western Conference, with the second-placed Utah Jazz (32-13) to host the sixth-placed Houston Rockets (28-17).

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Byrant died suddenly in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, with seven other reported casualties.

Tributes for five-time NBA champion and 2008 MVP Bryant have poured in across all sports.

After Bryant's shock passing, we look back at his memorable farewell appearance against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016, which capped a glittering 20-year career.

 

60 - Bryant's final point total. No player in the NBA scored as many as the Lakers guard did in one game throughout that season.

50 - The amount of shooting attempts by Bryant, who eclipsed Michael Jordan's record of 49 shots against the Orlando Magic in 1993. Bryant took 15 more shots than the rest of his team-mates combined.

16 - Unassisted points recorded. Bryant took control in his Hollywood goodbye - his final seven baskets coming without an assist.

18 - Contested shots made. Bryant nailed 18 of 40 shots with a defender within 3.5 feet against the Jazz.

22 - Points scored by Bryant in the paint. Having great success with layups, he also finished six-of-21 from three-point range.

13 - Unanswered points posted in the final two minutes in LA. The Lakers trailed by 10 points with 2:36 remaining before Bryant sparked and completed the rally.

2 - Turnovers committed in a remarkable outing. Bryant took care of the ball, despite his record amount of shooting attempts.

4 - Assists tallied by 'the Black Mamba'. Jordan Clarkson was the main beneficiary as he received three dimes from Bryant.

0 - Shots made in the first six minutes of the game as nerves troubled Bryant in the opening exchanges. He missed his first five shots.

7 - It had been seven years since Bryant's previous 60-point game - the 18-time All-Star going off with 61 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in 2009.

18,997 - Fans in attendance for Bryant's farewell at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Dirk Nowitzki paid a heartfelt tribute to his one-time NBA Finals rival Kobe Bryant following the Los Angeles Lakers legend's sudden death.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed when a helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

The five-time NBA champion spent 20 seasons with the Lakers, a record for longevity with a single team that stood until Nowitzki entered his 21st campaign with the Dallas Mavericks in 2018-19.

Nowitzki, now retired, memorably led Dallas to a series sweep of Bryant's Lakers in the 2011 playoffs, en route to the franchise's sole championship.

The Mavs announced they would retire the number 24 jersey Bryant wore during the second half of his career and their favourite son shared his sorrow in a social media post.

"This is hitting me really hard," Nowitzki wrote in a statement addressed to 'Mamba'.

"I will always remember coming home after games so I could watch you dominate the in the fourth quarter! You inspired so many around the world, including me.

"You will always be missed. You will always be remembered. You will always be loved. Rest in peace with your angel Gigi.

"Deepest sympathies to Vanessa, the girls and all the friends and families of the lives lost today!"

German forward and 2007 MVP Nowitzki was drafted two years after Bryant and the pair went on to play a combined 2,868 regular season games.

Kobe Bryant transcended the game of basketball after entering the NBA in 1996.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend provided highlight after highlight up until his retirement in 2016, with staggering point hauls.

Tragically, the five-time NBA champion and 2008 MVP and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Following his sudden passing, we look at Bryant's five greatest games with the Lakers, where he spent his entire 20-year career.

 

65 points - March 16, 2007 v Portland Trail Blazers

Against the Trail Blazers at Staples Center, Bryant came close to reaching the career-high 81 points he had recorded just over a year earlier. The superstar guard lit up the Blazers with 65 points as the Lakers won 116-111. Bryant shot 23-of-39, including 11-of-12 from the free-throw line, while he also made eight three-pointers.

Nate McMillan coached Portland that day and following Sunday's heartbreaking news, the-now Indiana Pacers coach told reporters: "I've seen it firsthand. He lit us up and I remember, he was shooting threes and just on fire, and we had him in a trap, deep corner, he had nowhere to go, should have passed the ball. He's facing his bench and he just turns and shoots it and it goes in. He really became like Michael [Jordan], in the sense that when you watched him play, could he do it again? Could he create that magic again in the fourth quarter? And he did."

61 points - February 2, 2009 v New York Knicks

Madison Square Garden hosted one of Bryant's greatest performances almost 11 years ago. At the world-famous arena in New York, 'the Black Mamba' posted 61 points - a venue record for a visiting player - against the Knicks, who lost 126-117 to the Lakers. On 19-of-31 shooting, Bryant finished with three assists and one block. He scored 34 points in the first half alone en route to the record, which was matched by Houston Rockets star James Harden in 2019.

"Tonight was one of the nights he kind of showed why he's going to go down in history," Lakers team-mate Lamar Odom said after the game.

62 points - December 20, 2005 v Dallas Mavericks

Three quarters were all that Kobe needed to embarrass the Mavericks. Bryant outscored Dallas 62-61 at the end of the third quarter in Los Angeles as the Lakers eased to a 112-90 victory. The Mavericks were one of the best teams that season, going on to reach the NBA Finals before succumbing to the Miami Heat. However, the Mavericks were schooled by the unstoppable Bryant, who shot 18-of-31 from the field and 22-of-25 from the free-throw line. He sat out the entire fourth quarter.

"It was just one of those nights," Bryant told reporters as he reflected on the game in 2016. "Yes [I could have scored 80 points that night]. It sounds funny to say, but yes, I could have."

60 points - April 13, 2016 v Utah Jazz 

Bryant farewelled basketball in the only way he knew how, with an exclamation mark. It was a true Hollywood goodbye as Bryant capped a career - spanning two decades - by scoring 60 final-game points in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. Bryant drained 23 points in the fourth quarter, posting his first 50-point game since February 2009. 

"It's hard to believe it happened this way," Bryant, who played 42 minutes and took attempted a career-high 50 shots, said. "I'm still shocked about it…. The perfect ending would have been a championship. But tonight was [me] trying to go out, play hard and try to put on a show as much as I possibly could. It felt good to be able to do that one last time."

81 points - January 22, 2006 v Toronto Raptors

The highlight of a stellar career and the night Bryant threatened to surpass Wilt Chamberlain. Kobe played 1,346 NBA games but he was well and truly in the zone against the Raptors, scoring 81 points - just 19 short of Chamberlain's legendary 100-point outing in 1962. Bryant produced 48 minutes of pure brilliance to lead the Lakers past the Raptors 122-104. It was a display of efficiency as Bryant's outburst featured a 60.9 shooting percentage from the field and 53.8 per cent from beyond the arc.

"Not even in my dreams," Bryant said. "That was something that just happened. It's tough to explain. It's just one of those things."

The Dallas Mavericks will retire the number 24 jersey in honour of Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers great's sudden death. 

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed.

A five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, 2008 MVP Bryant is regarded as one of the all-time greats following 20 years in Los Angeles, where the 41-year-old has two jerseys retired at Staples Center.

The Mavericks - the Lakers' Western Conference rivals - paid the ultimate tribute to 18-time All-Star Bryant.

"We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in a statement.

"Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father.

"Kobe's legacy transcends basketball, and our organisation has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick.

"Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa and the family, the Lakers organisation and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere."

Bryant and the Lakers enjoyed some memorable clashes with the Mavericks in the west.

The Mavericks claimed their only championship in 2011 after sweeping Bryant's Lakers in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Bryant averaged 23.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the Lakers in that series.

Rafael Nadal led tributes from the ATP Tour following the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant transcended basketball after his selection in the 1996 draft, going on to spend his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, where he claimed two Finals MVPs to go with his 2008 Most Valuable Player honour.

As the sporting world mourns his death, 19-time grand slam champion and world number one Rafael Nadal tweeted: "I woke up this morning with the horrible news of the tragic death of one of the greatest sportsman in the world. Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and other passengers. My condolences to his wife and families. I am in shock."

Rod Laver - one of the greatest tennis players of all time with 11 major titles - wrote: "Terribly sad to wake up to this news today. RIP Kobe Bryant. Too young. Deepest condolences to family and friends of the sporting legend."

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic had only spoken about Bryant - who attended last year's US Open - and his impact last week.

Prior to Sunday's fourth-round win over Diego Schwartzman at Melbourne Park, 16-time slam champion Djokovic provided an insight into Bryant following a difficult spell in 2018, which saw the Serbian star drop out of the top 20 due to an elbow injury.

"Kobe has been one of my mentors," Djokovic told ESPN. "I've had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. 

"When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I'll be back.

"I'm very grateful to him for being there for me, for being very supportive. I love Kobe, who doesn't? He's an amazing guy and one of the best basketball players and athletes of all-time."

Gregg Popovich shared a "deep sense of loss" and Doc Rivers battled tears as two of the NBA's most recognisable coaches addressed Kobe Bryant's death.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed their deaths after the news was initially reported by American outlet TMZ.

Nine people were believed to have been killed in the incident, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced. There were no survivors.

The San Antonio Spurs were among the first teams to take to the court after the news emerged and head coach Popovich said their sorrow would stretch far and wide.

"Everybody's pretty emotional about the tragedy with Kobe," Popovich told reporters after a 110-106 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

"All of us know what a great player he was, but he went beyond great playing. He was a competitor that goes unmatched. It's what made him as a player so attractive to everybody, that focus, that competitiveness, that will to win.

"Even more importantly than that, we all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us, in so many ways. So many millions of people loved him for so many different reasons. It's just a tragic thing.

"We all think about the family and the process they're going to be going through right now. That's where our thoughts should be."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Rivers retired from playing the season before Bryant debuted and struggled through an emotional news conference prior to his team's game against the Orlando Magic.

"The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him a long time," he said. "He means a lot to me, obviously. He was such a great opponent. It's what you want in sports.

"He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have. I was getting to know him more since he retired. This is a tough one.

"The news is just devastating for [wife] Vanessa and his family. So many people he touched. Looking at my young players and how emotional they are, they didn't know him and that tells you how far his reach was."

Cristiano Ronaldo has labelled Kobe Bryant a "true legend" after the Los Angeles Lakers great died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna, passed away along with seven others after the helicopter he was travelling in crashed near the Californian city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County.

Figures from across the world of sport paid tribute to the former Lakers star – a five-time NBA champion.

While Neymar dedicated one of his goals for Paris Saint-Germain against Lille to the 41-year-old and Lionel Messi also hailed Bryant, Ronaldo posted his condolences to Twitter.

"So sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna," Ronaldo tweeted.

"Kobe was a true legend and inspiration to so many. Sending my condolences to his family and friends and the families of all who lost their lives in the crash. RIP Legend."

"You were a genius like few others". That was the message from Barcelona captain Lionel Messi after the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant transcended basketball after his selection in the 1996 draft, going on to spend his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.

Football superstar and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi joined the list of mourners, using Instagram to write: "I have no words… all my love for Kobe's family and friends.

"It was a pleasure to meet you and share good times together. You were a genius like few others."

Bryant was the face of the Lakers, even after his retirement in 2016.

The guard earned MVP honours in 2008, while he was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals.

Bryant was also an 18-time All-Star to go with numerous other accolades, including two Olympic Games gold medals with the United States.

Tiger Woods called it "a shocker" to learn his friend Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.

Golf's 15-time major winner is an ardent Los Angeles Lakers fan and paid tribute to his fellow global sporting superstar.

Woods learned of the news after completing his final round at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego on Sunday.

Bryant was one of nine people on board a helicopter that crashed at approximately 10am in Los Angeles County, California, local authorities said.

His daughter, Gianna, also died in the tragedy, the NBA announced.

Bryant, who won five NBA championships with the Lakers and piled up personal accolades, was nicknamed 'Mamba', and golf fans had been urging an oblivious Woods to produce a magical round in the basketball great's memory.

"I didn't really understand why the people were saying, 'Do it for Mamba'," Woods said.

"But now I understand. It's a shocker for everyone. I'm unbelievably sad."

Woods said Bryant was an inspiration as a player.

"He brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor," Woods told CBS. "Not too many guys can say that throughout NBA history.

"He locked up on D [defense], obviously he was dominant on the offensive side, but anytime he was in the game he'd take on their best player and just shut him down for all 48 minutes and that was one of the more impressive things I think in his entire career.

"When he ruptured his Achilles and went to the foul line and made his shots, that's tough."

Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday aged 41, will be remembered as one of basketball's all-time greats.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna tragically died in a crash in Calabasas, a city in California.

Five NBA championships, 18 All-Star appearances, All-NBA First Team honours on 11 occasions and nine All-Defensive First Team selections – Bryant's staggering career spanned 20 years and was spent solely with the Lakers.

Bryant – the self-styled 'Black Mamba' – became the first guard to be drafted straight out of high school when he went 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft, with the Lakers sending center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the rights to select him.

While he spent most of his first season playing limited minutes off the bench, a display of the superstar talent that would go on to transcend the game came when, at 18, he became the youngest player to win the Slam Dunk Contest at the 1997 All-Star weekend.

It did not take long for comparisons to Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan to emerge in his breakout season in 1998-99, when Bryant started all 50 games in a season shortened due to a lockout and earned a six-year contract extension worth $70million.

It was a decision that quickly paid dividends as the Lakers established one of the league's greatest dynasties, winning the title in each of the next three campaigns with Bryant forming a formidable partnership alongside dominant center Shaquille O'Neal.

Their relationship was fractious – Bryant's hard-working philosophy and insatiable desire for improvement, the 'Mamba Mentality', often at odds with what he perceived to be a less professional approach from O'Neal. However, their chemistry on the floor was undeniable as the Lakers won three championships in succession from 2000 until 2002, only the fifth time in history a three-peat had been achieved.

Bryant and O'Neal parted ways after the 2004 NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons and the following year the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons. A positive response to adversity is the hallmark of a champion and Bryant was seemingly spurred onto greater heights by that setback.

In the 2005-06 campaign Bryant averaged a league-leading 35.4 points per game during the regular season – he scored a career-high 81 points in a 122-104 victory against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006, an iconic performance with a tally that only Wilt Chamberlain has bettered.

However, his wait for another ring continued with upset losses to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the postseason in 2006 and 2007. Again, Bryant stepped up his level in response and was named NBA MVP as the Lakers returned to the Finals in 2008, but they went down 4-2 to the Boston Celtics.

There was soon reason for celebration as Bryant led the United States to gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 – something he did again in London four years later – and his wait for a fourth ring was over when the Lakers overcame the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Finals after an impressive 65-17 record in the regular season.

The Lakers rallied from 3-2 down in the following year's Finals to triumph in Game 7, but following the departure of head coach Phil Jackson the franchise slumped into obscurity.

A torn Achilles ended Bryant's season in April 2013 and injuries soon became a persistent problem for the veteran guard, but at 35 he earned a two-year extension that ensured he remained the league's best-paid player.

He said goodbye to the NBA in 2016 in typically distinguished fashion – a 60-point game against the Utah Jazz in the series finale on April 13 seeing him sign off in style. Bryant was honoured by the Lakers with his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys being retired to the rafters at Staples Center.

Bryant's final game was a fitting farewell and a testament to the perseverance and dedication that rightfully earned him the status of a legend and giant of the sport.

Magic Johnson said the "greatest Laker of all-time is gone" as the Hall of Famer mourned the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna - known as Gigi - died following a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed.

A five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, 2008 MVP Bryant is regarded as one of the all-time greats following 20 years in Los Angeles, where the 41-year-old has two jerseys retired at Staples Center.

Another Lakers great and five-time champion Johnson paid tribute to 18-time All-Star Bryant, who was drafted by the storied Los Angeles franchise in 1996.

"As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I'm in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. [Johnson's wife] Cookie and I are heartbroken," Johnson wrote. "I love him, his family and what he stood for on the court and off the court.

"My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It's hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players.

"He gave his knowledge, time, and talent to tutor so many at the youth level, collegiate level, and NBA and WNBA players. Words can't express the impact that he had on the game of basketball. I know basketball fans all over the world will miss him, especially the city of Los Angeles.

"He was such an icon but also did so much for LA. He was passionate about serving the homeless and was an advocate for women's basketball. Coaching his daughter's basketball team brought him so much happiness.

"Kobe and I shared so many special conversations about life and basketball. We had so much in common off the court. I used to love talking to him about Lakers basketball, being fathers and husbands and how much we loved Italy. I will miss those conversations and him so much.

"Laker Nation, the game of basketball and our city, will never be the same without Kobe. Cookie and I are praying for [Bryant's wife] Vanessa, his beautiful daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri, as well as his parents Joe and Pam and his sisters.

"We will always be here for the Bryant family. We love you forever. #8 #24"

Johnson's on-court rival Larry Bird also paid tribute to Bryant in a statement released through the Indiana Pacers.

"I know we will all be struggling to find the words to express our sense of deep sorrow and tragic loss of losing Kobe and his daughter, Gianna," Boston Celtics icon Bird said.

"Kobe was not only an icon in the sports arena, he was a man of the world and touched so many lives and communities in the most positive ways.

"His star was continuing to rise every day and he knew no limits because of his many intellectual and creative talents and desire to give back to others - his passion for the game, for his family and for others was apparent in everything he accomplished.

"My family and I send our condolences to Kobe's family, our hearts are broken."

Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic and Pau Gasol were among those to pay tribute on Sunday as news broke of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant's passing.

Bryant, 41, was one of nine people who lost their lives in a helicopter crash close to the city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County, California.

The Lakers icon's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the incident.

A number of NBA players led tributes to Bryant, while others were involved in games on Sunday, with a moment's silence observed at the Denver Nuggets.

Philadelphia 76ers' Embiid was among the first to react, describing himself as "so freaking sad" as he reflected on the death of an inspirational star.

"Man I don't even know where to start," he wrote on Twitter. "I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals.

"I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I'm so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! RIP LEGEND"

MVP candidate Luka Doncic uploaded a picture with Bryant's daughter, writing: "this is so sad! RIP"

Bryant's former Lakers team-mate Pau Gasol posted: "Beyond devastated... my big brother... I can’t, I just can't believe it."

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green simply posted: "Stunned!"

Similarly, the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard wrote: "Wow."

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, and the Sixers were among the teams to post a statement in response to his death.

"The Philadelphia 76ers organisation mourns the losses of NBA icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and all of those who passed away tragically today in an accident in California," it read.

"Bryant, one of the most decorated players in NBA history and a global ambassador for the game, made an everlasting mark on our league.

"His determination, passion to win and fierce competitiveness fuelled the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA championships and inspired millions of people around the world. 

"Bryant's journey to icon status in the world of basketball included deep ties to the Philadelphia region, where he starred at Lower Merion High School from 1992-96.

As he honed his craft in Philadelphia, Bryant established a reputation as a player with once-in-a-lifetime poise, grit, heart and an unwavering love of the game.
 
"While his imprint on the game of basketball will be etched in the history books forever, Bryant will also be remembered for his love of his family, commitment to community through his philanthropic work, and for being an innovative leader in business.

"The 76ers organisation sends its sincerest condolences to Vanessa Bryant and the Bryant family during this incredibly difficult time.

"We also send our condolences to Jeanie Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers organisation and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere."

Michael Jordan has paid tribute to "little brother" Kobe Bryant after his fellow NBA legend died in a helicopter crash.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people on board a helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, a city in California, on Sunday.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed Bryant and Gianna, who also played basketball, died in the incident after the news was initially reported by American outlet TMZ.

Bryant, who spent his whole NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, will go down in history as a great of the game.

Jordan said in a statement released through his manager that Bryant was like family to him.

"I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing," Jordan said.

"We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.

"He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.

"Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply - and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball.

"Yvette [Jordan's wife] joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa [Bryant's wife], the Lakers organisation and basketball fans around the world."

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