The 1-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s passing is approaching and fans (as well as family) are bracing for the heavy day. Bryant and his daughter “GiGi” along with 9 other travelers lives were taken in an unfortunate helicopter crash on Sunday morning, January 26, 2020, in Calabasas, CA. Family, friends, celebrities, and fans alike all were taken by surprise by the horrible news, and tributes began to pour in via social media.
Among those to make a tribute was retired NBA player and TNT’s Inside the NBA co-host Charles Barkley. The Hall-of-Famer said during a special on TNT for the late legend that he learned the news of his passing after leaving the movies that Sunday. Barkley turned his phone on to notice he had missed 75 texts and 100 missed calls, initially thinking a massive trade had transpired. Instead, he then saw the headlines, which broke him down.
“I didn’t have that type of relationship with Kobe, but he was part of my 16 years in the NBA and my 19 years on TNT,” he said. “He was like one of my kids. And I just felt pain. He was always cordial and friendly, but I’m not gonna get on TV and act like we hung out and had dinner and we were good friends.”
Calling him a “renaissance man”, despite them not having a close friendship, he wouldn’t do any interviews that were requested of him to speak on Bryant. “I needed some time to process,” Barkley said.
Barkley also offered a statement in honor of the families of those lost in the helicopter crash. “First, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all nine people killed in this tragedy. I really want to emphasize that in remembrance of the other seven people involved. For me, this is like losing a family member, to lose Kobe and his daughter, Gianna. Basketball is a close-knit fraternity and I’m just sad. Really sad. My thoughts and prayers are with Vanessa and their girls, the Lakers family and every basketball fan around the world.”
Charles Barkley honors Kobe, Gigi, and all the families and friends of those killed in Sunday’s crash. pic.twitter.com/hOSoIs3B1Z— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 27, 2020
After Kobe’s death, some members of the press was irreverent in their coverage, going against the usual wishes for the dead to “rest in peace”. Gayle King was one of the reporters that received massive backlash for choosing to highlight the accusations towards Bryant of assault by a 19-year-old female hotel employee in Colorado.
Barkley appeared along with fellow ex-NBA players turned TV analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith to speak on his legacy on NBC’s Today. When said allegations were brought up, Barkley had this to say: “Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players ever, and he had a flaw that we all know about. You have to tell the picture in totality. We’re not trying to make Kobe out to be no hero, we’re celebrating his basketball excellence. We understand what happened in Colorado, that’s fair. But two things can be true.”
Kenny Smith then added, “Do I think it was appropriate or inappropriate? I think we all are imperfect. But I think what he has done and challenged the world to be, we all saw.”
May Kobe, Gigi, and the rest of the victims continue to rest in peace.