Kawhi Leonard recreated so much of his game and life after Kobe Bryant until he used a helicopter – and the same pilot – to get around Southern California.
Leonard, who signed with the Clippers in the San Diego region last summer after winning an NBA title in Toronto, told reporters on Wednesday that he wasn't sure if he would use this mode of transportation after Bryant's death along with the 13-year-olds will continue to use daughter Gianna, pilot Ara Zobayan and six others in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California.
"I spoke to him about it before we switched to LA. I only see how [Kobe] came back and forth from Newport [Beach]and he said he'd do it for about 17 years, ”said Leonard, according to the ESPN. "I feel like this … I mean … the things you hear, you still don't know what's real. I can't really talk about it. I don't know. I don't know yet. There are many Thoughts in my head. "
Leonard maintains a residence near the Staples Center, but he also drives to his home in San Diego if possible. He said Zobayan often flies him and Bryant on the same day.
"Great man. Super nice. He was one of the best pilots," said Leonard about Zobayan. "This is a guy you are asking to fly from city to city. It is just still surreal.
"He'll drop me off and say he's around [to] pick up Kobe, [and] Kobe said "hello". Or he just says, "I just dropped Kobe and he said" hello. "Vice versa. So it's a crazy interaction. He's a good guy and I'm sorry for everyone."
Leonard added that he worked with Bryant in summer 2018 and used his mentor as motivation for the Raptors' run for the 2019 championship. He even phoned Bryant during the dressing room party after they killed the Warriors in the NBA final.
"It's sad every day," said Leonard. "You know, you feel that life is not real when you see those little monuments or the pictures that people face with his face and the year he was born and the year he died Not everything comes together yet.
“Just the competition, just wanting to do everything to be a better player – on and off the pitch. I mean it's so much. It is difficult to think of the conversation we just had together to sum it up in one sentence. Everything he did. It's just that motivation. I thought of him every game. He [was] I felt like I had a drive for myself last year when I tried to win this championship. "
The Clippers were scheduled to face the Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday, but agreed to the NBA's decision to postpone the game. Clippers expert Paul George, another Southern California product, also grew up with the idol Bryant.
"We from here. It's different when you talk about what people from another state think of him, "said George." We grew up here. We saw him on TV every day. He's the reason we all played the game It strikes differently with us than with Russ [Westbrook], DeMar [DeRozan]I myself, Kawhi, just the SoCal people, it just happens differently. He was our MJ [Michael Jordan], He was our hero. He was our GOAT. It's just going to be different for us.
“From veneration as a child to developing friendship and fraternity to talking to him this summer at his Mamba Academy and talking about fatherhood. [It’s] Just a few things you can't get over. "