Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao delivered a tribute to fellow sports icon Kobe Bryant.
Pacquiao, 41, said through his Instagram post on Monday that the former Los Angeles Lakers guard and National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar would always be remembered as a legend around the world.
“The world lost a legend today but the impact and legacy he leaves behind will last forever! #RIPMamba,” the fighting senator and reigning World Boxing Association super welterweight champion posted on his Instagram and Twitter account with his photo shaking Bryant’s hand in one occasion.
Pacquiao, an avid basketball fans who also played in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) before, was among the many Filipinos who learned the sad news about the helicopter crash accident in Calabasas, California that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and few other passengers.
Winningest Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) coach Tim Cone of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, meanwhile, remembers the retired NBA superstar as one of the greatest players who thrived in the triangle offense.
“Simply devastating. I watched endless video of Kobe (Bryant) as I studied the triangle,” Cone told The Manila Times through a text message. “Transcendent talent. We will all miss what he would have done in the second part of his life. It would have been spectacular like the first part.”
Cone is known for his triangle offense also that was popularized by former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson who was Bryant’s coach then. Bryant and Jackson captured five NBA titles from 2000 to 2002, 2009 and 2010 for the Lakers.
Cone has just won his 22nd PBA title after guiding Ginebra to its third Governors’ Cup crown.
Five-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo was also saddened after learning the news before heading to San Miguel Beer’s practice.
“He (Bryant) is my idol. Yung buhay talaga natin sobrang unpredictable kelangan talaga natin maging mabuti sa kapwa natin at wag manakit at walang inaagrabyado (Our life is very unpredictable so we really need to be good with other people and avoid hurting other people too),” he said.
The PBA through Commissioner Willie Marcial and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas have also paid tribute to the player known as the “Black Mamba” by sending their own statement.
“The PBA has lost a dear friend in Kobe Bryant who leaves behind fond memories of seven unforgettable visits to our country. Kobe was an exceptional basketball player but beyond his athletic skills, he was known for his caring heart and love of family,” said the PBA statement sent by Marcial to The Times.
“His life was an inspiration and a lesson to everyone that with hard work, dedication and self-sacrifice, nothing is impossible. At 41, Kobe is gone too soon but his legacy will last forever. The PBA mourns the passage of a man who has touched the lives of millions. Rest in peace Kobe.”
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and President Al Panlilio mourn the shocking demise of Bryant, who also served as great ambassador of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
“The basketball world just lost one of its greatest sons, Kobe Bryant. Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas is grieved by the news, and we send extend our deepest condolences to his family. Kobe was greatness personified. From the way he carried himself to the work he puts into his game — committedly doing [he always did] it with passion and with style. His handful of trips to the Philippines has made him one of the most beloved NBA players among Filipino fans and we will all remember these moments fondly, especially the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend, where he amazed us with his talent, and touched us with his authentic [wowed us with his electric] personality,” the SBP statement said.
PBA players Bobby Ray Parks Jr. of TNT KaTropa and Kiefer Ravena of Northern Luzon Expressway, among others, have also expressed their emotions in social media earlier.
“More than basketball, He is a father.. I just cant fathom things right now..like this cant be real..my sincerest condolences to the Bryant family..May God give you strength,peace and comfort in these tough times,” posted by Parks through his twitter.
“Lost for words. No the news I wanted to hear when i woke up. Life’s short man. Appreciate everybody around you to the fullest! Do not take anything for granted. You were one of the reasons i played the sport, Kobe. You are the reason why i want to be great,” posted by Ravena through his twitter.
Bryant played for 20 seasons in the NBA from 1996 to 2016. He was the 2008 MVP and 18-time NBA All-Star team member.