January 26, 2020 – Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak released the following statement on the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna:
“I’m deeply saddened and shocked by today’s tragic news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
“I had the privilege of witnessing up close, from start to finish, Kobe’s remarkable 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. His accomplishments were truly extraordinary – a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBA MVP – and he will be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats.
“Kobe was one of the fiercest competitors the NBA has ever known. Who will ever forget his Game 7 performance in the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics? Despite his own and our entire team’s shooting struggles, he willed us to win with 23 points – 10 coming in the fourth quarter – and 15 rebounds. That game epitomized his drive, his passion and his desire to win. Although the game was close throughout, I always felt that one way or another he would not let us lose.
“Kobe’s toughness on the basketball court was second to none. He played through injuries and sickness, oftentimes defying doctors’ and ownership’s recommendations to not play, in an effort to never miss a game. Kobe was a once-in-a-generation player who will forever be remembered for his competitive nature and his will to win. They threw away the mold when Kobe Bryant was born. There will never be another like him.
“My deepest condolences, and those of the entire Hornets organization, go out to his wife, Vanessa, and their entire family, as well as to the Lakers organization and loyal Lakers fans all over the world.”