Kobe Bryant death: ‘Heartbroken’ long-time Lakers fan Jack Nicholson mourns loss of NBA player

Long-time Los Angeles Lakers fan Jack Nicholson is mourning the loss of NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California with seven other passengers, including his 13-year-old daughter.

Bryant – who won five championships – was one of the NBA’s most popular players. His death has rocked the world, with tributes pouring in from the worlds of sport, politics and entertainment.

Nicholson, who is regularly photographed sitting courtside at Lakers games, paid tribute in an interview with CBSLA, who reported that the Oscar-winning actor sounded “heartbroken” over Bryant’s death.

“My reaction is the same as almost all of LA,” the Oscar-winning actor said. ”Where we think everything’s solid, there’s a big hole in the wall. I was used to seeing and talking to Kobe that… it kills you. It’s just a terrible event.”

Nicholson recalled meeting Bryant for the first time in New York, an encounter that saw him “tease” the sportsman.

“I offered him a basketball and asked him if he wanted me to autograph it for him. He looked at me like I was crazy.”

He added: “I sat right behind his jump shot on the left hand side. I can see him going up and I can tell the first instant if it’s going in.”

In 2016, Bryant retired as the third-leading scorer in NBA history after playing two decades as a prolific scorer for the Lakers.

Actors including Whoopi Goldberg and Idris Elba have also paid tribute to the NBA star.

The Grammy Awards, which took place in Los Angeles on Sunday night (26 January) in the aftermath of the tragedy, saw several tributes from performers including Lizzo and Lil Nas X. 

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