DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Nuggets fans gathered at Brooklyn’s at the Pepsi Center as they heard the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s death. Bryant and eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter, died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday.
Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were the biggest hurdles for the Nuggets in the early 2000s. Nuggets fans saw Bryant eliminate their team in game six of the Western Conference finals in 2009.
“I hated him because he was a Laker, but you couldn’t do nothing, but respect the game,” said Josh Sansburn, a Nuggets season ticket holder. “It’s going to hurt for years.”
While some fans found out the news of Bryant’s death by watching the Nuggets game, many others learned on social media earlier in the day.
“It was like getting punched in the gut. Just couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable,” said Sean Lohocky.
“He was just one of the greatest athletes I can remember in my time and as a basketball fan I used to love to come watch him play,” said Lindsey Idelberg.
Marcus Stegner was one of many fans leaving the Nuggets-Rockets game wearing a Kobe jersey. The 10 year old tells CBS4 the Mamba was a role model of his.
“He really inspired me,” Stegner said. “I play on a basketball team by myself and I just try and be like him. I wish I was him.”
The Denver Nuggets held a moment of silence before their game against the Houston Rockets.