It was one year ago when TMZ broke the news to the world that Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California. It is also a moment where everyone remembers when they heard the trouble news.
When I asked Denver Nuggets head coach where was he when the new broke, he along with the Nuggets were on the road preparing to take on the Houston Rockets.
“I remember when one of the coaches came into the office and said, “Hey, there are rumors that Kobe Bryant was in a helicopter crash,” and I just refused to believe it as I’m sure most people did,” Malone told me on Monday night. “And as the next hour or so passed and those rumors were confirmed the feeling in our locker room was the most morbid, quiet, eerie, feeling I’ve ever been in, in a locker room.”
The game was played as scheduled, but before the game, the Rockets PA asked the crowed to allow a moment of silence for Bryant. Then chants of “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe followed!
When asked about his favorite memory coaching against the NBA legend, Malone shared that Bryant was a handful.
“I’d bet you most coaches don’t have a favorite moment, because Kobe was an assassin,” said Malone.
“He was one of the greatest to ever do it and every time you game plan against one of Kobe’s teams it was a tremendous challenge for you as a coaching staff and for your team because he was that tough of a cover.”
However, Malone had a hard time just choosing one moment because there was just so many to pick from.
Malone was present when Bryant tore his Achilles Tendon in Oakland against the Warriors in 2013. Bryant didn’t get carried off the court; after suffering the injury, he stepped to the free throw line and made both of them. Then he walked off under his own power. Bryant’s mentality was unmatched.
“I was in Golden State the night he tore his Achilles,” Malone said. “The guy has the physical, mental toughness to stay in the game and make his free throws before they carried him off the court.”
Malone also witnessed Bryant torch the Knicks after dropping 46 points back on February 6, 2003, early on in his coaching career.
“I was with the Knicks early on in my NBA career when he was having stretches of 40 point games and put a show on in Madison Square Garden, the worlds most famous arena,” Malone said.