Kobe Bryant and the Warriors always will be connected.
On the same night the Warriors broke the NBA's single-season wins record with their 73rd victory, Bryant scored 60 points in his last game ever. It was the perfect ending to an historic career.
It now nearly has been one year since Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, tragically died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. On Sunday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr reflected on learning of the terrible news.
"Jarron Collins came over to me and whispered the news in my ear," Kerr said to reporters. "I think it was the same thing where a couple people on our staff whispered it to a couple players on our team. We were all like a deer in the headlights, ya know. We just froze and all tried to absorb the news and everything stopped.
"The music stopped, players stopped, nobody said a word. A lot of guys dropped to the floor and started crying. Nothing happened for 10 minutes. We all just sat there in silence. It was one of the worst moments of all of our lives. I don't think any of us will forget that day."
Kerr played against Bryant and coached against the Los Angeles Lakers legend. He watched the five-time NBA champion at his peak, but more than anything, he will never forget facing Bryant as a raw rookie back in 1996.
"I think the first time that I played against him was when I was in Chicago and he was with the Lakers. I just remember him asking Michael Jordan all these questions on the court the whole time," Kerr said. "They were guarding each other, and I just could see he was trying to get pointers. It was pretty interesting. He was obviously nowhere close to the player he became but clearly had the audacity to think that he was going to be Michael Jordan, because he was asking him for pointers. And Michael was giving them to him.
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"So Michael knew something himself. He had the confidence that you need to succeed. You could see he had a ton of athleticism and skill, but I think what ultimately made him who he was was that audacity to ask Michael Jordan for pointers in his very first game against him."
Bryant played just under 10 minutes off the bench in a 129-123 loss to the Chicago Bulls and scored five points. Jordan, meanwhile, scored 30 points and Kerr dished three assists off the bench.
More than anything, an 18-year-old Bryant showed Kerr the exact kind of player and person he would become with his relentless mentality.