When Byrant died, a piece of me died: Jordan

(160625) -- TAGUIG CITY, June 25, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Basketball icon Kobe Bryant speaks at a press conference for the Mamba Mentality Tour in Taguig City, the Philippines, June 25, 2016. Kobe Bryant is in the Philippines for his seventh time for a series of events including teaching Filipino youth at a basketball camp. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

New York: Six-time NBA champion and global icon Michael Jordan has said that a part of him died when basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash.

“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” Jordan was quoted as saying by the New York Times while speaking at a public memorial service held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Monday.

Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on January 26. The date 2/24 for the memorial could be viewed as symbolic as Bryant wore No. 24 during the latter part of his illustrious NBA career and his daughter Gianna wore No. 2 for her youth basketball teams.

As soon as Jordan started his speech, Jordan broke down almost, and, about halfway through, he did not hesitate to poke fun at himself for being unable to hold his emotions together.

“In the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank,” Jordan said. “He left it all on the floor.”

Bryant finished his playing career as the Lakers’ all-time leading points scorer, and is fourth on the NBA’s all-time list with 33,643 points. He won gold for the US at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Bryant also has an Academy Award to his name for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” in 2018.