Magic Johnson Celebrates Kobe Bryant's Inspiring Legacy and Spirit: He 'Would've Wanted Us to Carry On'
While the outpouring of heartbreak and grief over Kobe Bryant's shocking death has been overwhelming, Magic Johnson is looking back at the NBA icon's inspirational legacy.
Johnson sat down with Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the pair shared some happy memories about the late Lakers legend.
Kimmel revealed that Johnson had actually been booked weeks ago, and thanked him for coming through, to which Johnson explained, "Kobe wouldn't have wanted me to cancel."
"Kobe would have wanted us to carry on and be great in our lives," Johnson shared, adding that people should honor Bryant's memory by using this tragedy to motivate us to add something good to the world.
"We should do something positive. Whether it's making sure we love our family or giving back to an organization, in his name, we should do something great," Johnson explained. "Because he was such a great man, a great husband, a great father, and an incredible basketball player… He was enjoying life, and went way too early."
During their friendship, Bryant looked up to Johnson as an idol, and both basketball superstars had publicly called each other the greatest LA Laker of all time. For Johnson, Bryant earned that honor because of how much of himself he put into his passion for the sport.
"We both poured our heart and soul into performing every night, in Los Angeles, for the greatest fans on Earth. We both were committed to basketball, we were married to basketball, we were married to winning and playing the game the right way," Johnson reflected. "Every night you came to the Staples Center you knew that you were going to see something special, something great, that you'd never seen in your life, and that was Kobe Bryant."
"Kobe never made excuses," he added. "Whether he was tired, hurt, he played through everything, and the man gave us everything he had."
While the pair knew each other well, they only ever faced off on the court once, during a practice session, where they played one-on-one.
"He got mad at me because I called foul on every play," Johnson said, laughing.
Kimmel played a clip from a past interview with Bryant where he talked about facing off against Johnson, and the elder NBA star did everything he could think of to get an edge.
Laughing at the memory, Johnson admitted that Bryant's recollection of the game was spot-on.
"I was older, and he was in his prime, killin' me. So I was like, 'I gotta cheat! I gotta do something!'" Johnson recalled.
The celebrated star's heartwarming appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live comes one day after the host dedicated an entire episode to Bryant -- as well as his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and the seven other victims of Sunday's devastating helicopter crash. Meanwhile Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O'Brien also emotionally addressed the tragedy in touching segments at the start of their shows. Check out the video below for more.
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