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Spurs newsletter: Remembering Kobe Bryant, his final SA game, tributes from Pop, former and current Spurs

(Kobe Bryant and Gregg Popovich embrace during Bryant's final game in San Antonio.)
(Kobe Bryant and Gregg Popovich embrace during Bryant's final game in San Antonio.) (AP Photo)

SAN ANTONIO – An iconic NBA and global figure has died. The loss of Kobe Bryant has sent shockwaves around the world.

Whether you were a fan of Kobe or not, it’s difficult not to respect and admire the dedication and drive Bryant brought to every game he played. It’s truly devastating news.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people also died in a horrific helicopter crash Sunday in California.

This week’s KSAT.com Spurs newsletter is dedicated to Kobe. His Lakers battles with the Spurs were legendary. He will be missed. Rest in Peace Kobe and the victims of the crash.

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If you have questions or comments about the newsletter, hit me up at rmarquez@ksat.com.

POP SOUND OF THE WEEK: The Spurs head coach discusses Kobe’s legacy. “We all feel a deep sense of loss.” VIDEO AND STORY HERE.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, congratulates the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant at the end of Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal game in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 15, 2004. The Lakers won 88-76 to advance to the conference finals. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, right, congratulates the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant at the end of Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal game in Los Angeles, Saturday, May 15, 2004. The Lakers won 88-76 to advance to the conference finals. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian) (AP2004)

Former, current Spurs react to news of Kobe Bryant’s death

How the Spurs, Raptors, paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in game

‘I can’t believe Kobe is dead at 41’: SA basketball fans react to Bryant’s tragic death

ROUND BALL ROUNDTABLE: What is your best Kobe Bryant moment?

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It was watching Kobe and the Lakers in their epic playoff battles with the Spurs when they were the only two teams winning championships in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Kobe didn’t always remember my name but would call me “San Antonio” when we would run into each other. I can remember when he and Shaq were not getting along, he would join us in the Lakers media room and have dinner with us at our table.

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Geez, I’m not sure I can pick just one. I loved his alley-oop pass to Shaq in the 2000 Western Conference Finals. His last NBA game when he scored 60 points and then told the Staples Center crowd afterward, “Mamba out,” and blew a kiss.

Perhaps even better than that was how he treated the media, especially us in San Antonio. He was always friendly and would talk with us until a Lakers staffer would take him away.

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During the early 2000s, the Spurs and Lakers had yearly, epic battles to see who was going to the finals. I had the pleasure of covering many of those regular season and playoff contests, including Laker practices. Kobe got to a point where he always recognized me. He couldn’t always remember my name so he just called me “San Antonio.”

Kobe was one of the few superstar athletes that was media accessible and friendly. After one epic regular season battle, photographer Mark Mendez and I finished interviews in the Spurs locker room and headed for the Lakers locker room. It was empty when we walked in, or so we thought.

As we were about to leave, Kobe came through a training room door. He greeted us and then asked what we needed. I asked if he had a minute for a couple of questions. He graciously said, “for you, of course.” It was just me, Mark and Kobe. Talk about a great moment and memory. He will be missed. Rest In Peace Kobe.

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The opportunity to cover his final game in San Antonio is something I will never forget. He spoke before and after the game, reminiscing about Spurs-Lakers games, the fans and his time in the Alamo City. He was relaxed, funny and had the attention of the entire room. He transcended sports in my opinion.

Follow us on Twitter or tweet us your Spurs questions to: Greg at @GregSimmonsKSAT, Larry at @LRam2, David at @DAVIDKSAT or RJ at @KSATRJ

PLAYER SOUND OF THE WEEK: An emotional DeMar DeRozan speaks about Kobe’s impact on his life as a Southern California native, and the loss of a legend. VIDEO HERE.

DeMar DeRozan reacts to Kobe Bryant's death
DeMar DeRozan reacts to Kobe Bryant's death

OFF COURT STORY OF WEEK: 5 Sweet Moments Between Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. STORY HERE.

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 29, 2019.
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 29, 2019. (2019 Getty Images)

There will be no “Power Rankings Pulse” or “Schedule Look Ahead” this week. I wanted to share Kobe’s final press conference in San Antonio where he discussed his tribute video, battles against the Spurs and the love from the fans in the Alamo City. HERE’S THE FULL VIDEO.

(Kobe Bryant speaks to the media following his final game in San Antonio in February 2016.)
(Kobe Bryant speaks to the media following his final game in San Antonio in February 2016.) (KSAT)
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The most interesting Spur in the world, or former Spurs player, is Manu Ginobili, with Boris Diaw a close second. What has Manu been up to? Obviously, everyone around the league was devastated after hearing the Kobe news. Manu, Tony Parker, David Robinson and many others tweeted their condolences. RIP MAMBA.

(Former Spurs players on Twitter after Kobe Bryant's death.)
(Former Spurs players on Twitter after Kobe Bryant's death.) (KSAT)

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