San Antonio Remembers Kobe Bryant as NBA Legend, Fierce Competitor Against Spurs

San Antonio Remembers Kobe Bryant as NBA Legend, Fierce Competitor Against Spurs
Twitter / johndelizondo
San Antonio Spurs players past and present were among those mourning former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday morning following a helicopter crash in Southern California.

Following a moment of silence at Sunday afternoon's game at the AT&T Center, the Spurs and Toronto Raptors let the shot clock run out after tipoff, a somber 24 seconds in honor of Bryant, who wore both 8 and 24 during his two decades as a Laker. Fans inside the arena chanted "Kobe!" following the tribute.
After the Spurs' loss to the Raptors, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, usually a jokester in media interviews, reflected on the tragedy felt across the basketball world with Kobe's passing.

"Good game, tough loss, who cares," Popovich said. "All of us knew what a great player he was, but he went beyond great play. He was a competitor. It goes unmatched."
Perhaps no other team knows just how tough a competitor Bryant was than the Spurs. While the Spurs-Lakers rivalry isn't as strong as it once was, many San Antonians remember the teams battling it out during most of the 2000s as they vied to be top in the Western Conference.

During that era, the Spurs were able to win the NBA championship in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, while the Lakers disrupted SA's potential domination of the decade by snatching the title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Bryant, who retired in 2016, also led his team to championships in 2009 and 2010.

Although Spurs fans may have held bitter feelings toward Bryant and the Lakers back then, the star's contributions to the game and pop culture have eased those hostilities. Alamo City fans may have hated Bryant during those years, but the respect and recognition for his game stayed constant. And now in his death, basketball stars, retired legends like Bryant himself and everyday fans are pouring out their love for the the player nicknamed the "Black Mamba."

While longtime Spur Tim Duncan, who also retired in 2016, doesn't have social media accounts to share a touching message, footage of him crying while sitting courtside speaks volumes. The display of emotion is a testament to the the friendship and competition between the pair after leading their respective teams against one another.

"We all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us in so many ways and so many millions of people loved him for so many reasons," Popovich said.

Below is the tribute video the Spurs put together in honor of Bryant's last game against San Antonio.

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