Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant: ‘He went beyond the veil’

More than half of the time Kobe Bryant played in the NBA was spent doing so with Phil Jackson sitting at the end of the bench. 

Naturally, the longtime coach of the Los Angeles Lakers released a statement reflecting on his time spent with Bryant in the league on Sunday after Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash.

“The crash was a tragedy for multiple families,” Jackson said, via Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “My heart goes out to Vanessa and the families that lost loved ones. 

“Kobe was a chosen one — special in many ways to many people. Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil.”

Jackson led the Lakers for 11 seasons with Bryant from 1999-2011, and won five NBA titles during that stretch — including three straight titles in his first three years with the organization. He retired after the 2010-11 season, four years before Bryant officially wrapped up his 20-year career.

He is just the latest Lakers great to pay tribute to Bryant, joining Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal and others. 

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles on Sunday morning. The news sent shockwaves through the sports world, eliciting tributes from both current and former players, fans, politicians and more. 

Kobe Bryant’s longtime coach called him “a chosen one — special in many ways to many people.” (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

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