Former NBA standout Amar’e Stoudemire, who was playing basketball in Israel, cried when he heard that NBA legend Kobe Bryant died.
Stoudemire was playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv against Hapoel Tel Aviv when the news broke about the helicopter accident in Southern California. The crash killed nine people, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
“I don’t know what to say, man,” Stoudemire said. “I’m shocked, bro. I don’t know what to say. I don’t even want to believe it.”
Stoudemire played against Bryant, an 18-time All-Star who played for the Los Angeles Lakers for his entire 20-year career. His Suns and the Lakers clashed in the 2007-08 playoffs.
Fans at the Tel Aviv arena stood and applauded in tribute to Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history, when news of his death was announced.
Omri Casspi, who also played against Bryant during a decade in the NBA and now is a teammate of Stoudemire’s in Tel Aviv, tweeted simply “speechless.”
Fans around the world mourned the death of Bryant, a five-time world champion who won the Most Valuable Player award in 2008.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his condolences to Bryant’s family for the “tragedy,” calling him “one of the greatest basketball players in history.” Foreign Minister Israel Katz also tweeted condolences from Israel “to his family and the NBA family.”