Michael Jordan and Duke’s Coach K react to death of Kobe Bryant

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Duke University head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski released a statement Sunday about Kobe Bryant’s death after coaching Bryant during the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team forward Kobe Bryant, left, talks with head coach Mike Krzyzewski during a practice Saturday, July 14, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Meanwhile, former UNC-Chapel Hill great and NBA star Michael Jordan also spoke out about Bryant’s death.

Krzyzewski said that Bryant’s death was “devastating.”

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant were among nine people who died when a helicopter crashed the Calabasas area of Southern California around 10 a.m. Sunday, officials said.

Krzyzewski said that Bryant “cherished representing his country in a first-class manner” during the Olympics, according to the statement released through the Duke Twitter account.

Here is the full statement from Krzyzewski:

“We have tragically lost one of the greatest sports figures of our time with the passing of Kobe Bryant. He was an incredibly gifted person who was universally respected. He was in constant pursuit of doing something special and there will never be a greater warrior in our sport. I had the amazing honor of coaching Kobe in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and I will always remember how much he cherished representing his country in a first-class manner playing the game he so loved.

The game of basketball is better today because of Kobe, and he deserves eternal appreciation for that. This is a devastating loss, made even more tragic by the passing of his daughter, Gianna, and all others on board. The entire Krzyzewski family is saddened as we genuinely loved and admired Kobe. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Vanessa, their daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, and the families of those involved.”

Michael Jordan also on Sunday reacted to the news about the death of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter.

“I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me,” Jordan said.

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan, right, is held up by Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant during the fourth quarter action, Feb. 1, 1998 in Inglewood, California. Lakers routed the Bulls, 112-87. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Jordan was the most notable of former and current NBA stars to express how shocked they were at the news. Jordan commended Bryant for his fierce competitive streak and called him “one of the greats of the game.”

Bryant’s legacy is often compared to that of Jordan. Bryant won five NBA championships, compared to Jordan’s six.

Here is the full text from Michael Jordan:

“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.

Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”

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