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How Rockets players reacted to news of Kobe Bryant's death

Members of the Rockets found out about Kobe Bryant's death just before playing the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon.
Credit: AP
Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers sits on the bench after word of the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant before an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Denver. Bryant died in a California helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER — Just before the Rockets tipped off in Denver on Sunday, the team got news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people, were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California.

After the Rockets lost to the Nuggets, players and head coach Mike D'Antoni were asked about the news.

Here's what they said:

Austin Rivers

You know, he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game and more importantly, just from what he's meant for the youth basketball and in sports. I've got to be honest, I'm a competitor and obviously we cared about losing tonight. But I got to be honest with you, it just wasn't on my mind when we lost the game. I go back to reality and the facts are we lost somebody that meant so much to all of us. And then you hear about his daughter, as a father. I have said many prayers for that family and I will continue to do so. It looked like he was the happiest he's ever been. After basketball, he and Gigi's relationship was, I mean, everybody saw it. That's all he posted about. And this was tough, I don't know how we played today. I would start thinking about the game and then it would just snap back into my mind. I don't get to play tomorrow and I'm sure Utah would do a tribute and at this pain is not going away any time soon. You don't have to be a basketball fan to feel this the most competitive athletes, iconic athletes. And honestly, to be completely honest, more so as a father, what he's meant to that family. Vanessa and the kids and may he rest in peace. This is, this is tough.

Eric Gordon

I mean, this is devastating. And this one hurt to the core, to hear news like that before the game. It was tough to stay focused, it was, I mean, it was tough. It was I mean, it’s just tough to hear news like that before the game. Guy, you admire how you looked up to. And, you know, I just wish all the families they know they need all the support that they can get. I mean, all the support they get. That's just the toughest. So devastated. That's the toughest thing you could ever deal with. We even had the same agent, and talked to him as I was a rookie and worked out with him a few times and like I knew his family. So. You know, the best thing you know, after basketball, he's showing that he was being a dad and being with his family. You know, his girls were playing basketball and so he was doing the things that he's supposed to do. And for us to hear this news is. I'm telling you it hurts to the core.

Mike D'Antoni

Yeah, and I was pretty somber. It was before the game, you know, with devastating news is just as shook. A lot. Um, you know, obviously our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and Vanessa and the kids and just an unbelievable tragedy. Well, I mean, it's just like with everybody. He's one of the greatest players ever. An unbelievable competitor. I earned everything, every accolade he got, he earned. He just kept coming at you. There won't be many like him, that's for sure.

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