Former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony remembered Kobe Bryant on Sunday, hours after the Lakers great and NBA legend died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. at the age of 41.
Bryant was on his way to a basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Gianna was expected to play, with Kobe coaching.
"I was in bed with my son, my wife called me crying," Anthony said. "People that's close to the family called me. At that point, everything just kind of went numb, dark. Basketball for me was the furthest thing on my mind today."
While there was initially a question about whether the NBA would proceed with its slate of games on Sunday, all went on as scheduled, with teams taking 24-second shot clock violations and 8-second backcourt violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers during his career.
"That was a big gesture for the league to take that stance. I don't think there's gonna be enough that we can do to show our condolences and our support," Anthony said. "The biggest thing -- especially for me -- is his family, his other daughters, his wife, and the people that was close to him. That's what we have to worry about now."
Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa -- one of Gianna's teammates -- were also killed in the crash. Also on board were Christina Mauser, who was the top assistant coach on the Mamba girls' basketball team, Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton, and pilot Ara Zobayan. There were no survivors.
While speaking after Sunday night's game, Anthony said a few times that he believed his playing was something Bryant would've wanted.
"Probably the hardest game I ever had to play," Anthony said after the Trail Blazers beat the Pacers in Portland. "Just, I don't know. It was tough. It was tough. ... I think, honestly, knowing him, the way that I know him, he would've wanted me to play. ... I had to pull myself back in and check back in emotionally, because I wasn't there today."
The 35-year-old Anthony, who was teammates with Bryant on the 2008 and 2012 USA Olympic basketball teams that won gold medals, reflected on the relationship he had with Bryant.
"Our friendship and relationship was deeper than basketball," Anthony said. "It was family. It was friendship. It was -- basketball was the last piece of connective tissue between us two."
Anthony had recently spoken to Bryant, who he had expected to come to the Blazers/Lakers game this coming Friday in Los Angeles.
"We just went to dinner, in New York," Anthony said. "Just talked to him a couple of days ago. We was talking about the Laker game this week coming up -- him coming. It's tough."