San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan and Kobe Bryant shared a special bond that started before DeRozan began his NBA career.
Following the Spurs meeting with the Toronto Raptors, the LA native spoke on the tragic loss as well as Bryant's influence on the game as well as the world.
"Words can't explain the pain." DeRozan began. "For myself, learning everything that I've learned - basketball-wise - from Kobe, what he meant to the game, the inspiration that he brought to the world. Not just that, his daughter; I'm a father, I can't imagine something like that happening. It's a sad, sad, very sad day."
"Everything I've learned came from Kobe. Everything." He continued, "Take Kobe away, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have the love, I wouldn't have the passion, the drive. Everything came from him."
Among the many former and current players who emulated Bryant, perhaps none did so more than DeRozan who has long patterned his game after Bryant. From high school to his college days at USC and then with both the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs, DeRozan's game was built largely on that of Bryant, one of the league's elite scorers and shot makers.
Shortly following the tip-off between the Spurs and Raptors, each team took a 24-second shot clock violation to honour No. 24.
Pausing to remember a great one, gone too soon. pic.twitter.com/YOAIkldiX4- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 26, 2020
Prior to the game, DeRozan was comforted by a number of his current and former teammates.
DeMar DeRozan and some of the @Raptors share a moment during warmups. pic.twitter.com/BXDWGRzWgK- Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 26, 2020
DeRozan and the Spurs are back in action on Monday at Chicago in the second game of a back-to-back.
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