The Oscar-winning actor, who is known around Los Angeles as a big fan of both basketball and the city’s home team, spoke with CBS2’s Jim Hill about his feelings on the untimely loss of Bryant shortly after news broke of his death.
“My reaction is the same as almost all of L.A.,” Nicholson said. “Where everything was solid, there’s a big hole in the wall.”
Bryant, 41, was on a helicopter flying over Calabasas with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna when it crashed, killing them and seven others.
The “Departed” actor remembered Bryant’s talent, noting that he, “sat right behind his jump shot on the left-hand side.”
“I was so used to seeing and talking to Kobe that, you know… it kills you,” Nicholson said. “It’s just a terrible event.”
The star also recalled a funny story about the first time he met the legendary basketball player.
“I remember him in totality as just how great a player he was. But you know I teased him the first time we met. It was in the [Madison Square] Garden in New York and I offered him a basketball and asked him [if] he wanted me to autograph it for him,” he said with a chuckle. “He looked at me like I was crazy.”
Nicholson continued, noting that Bryant had a sense of humor and, “got all the jokes.”
Bryant finished his career as an 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA team, 12-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection, two time NBA Finals MVP and the 2008 NBA MVP.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said in a Sunday afternoon press conference there were nine people listed on the helicopter's manifest and all were believed to be dead. Police did not confirm any of the identities of the victims.
Art Marrujo, a dispatch supervisor with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told the Associated Press that firefighters worked to douse flames that spread through about an acre of dry brush.
The 2020 Grammys, which aired the night of the crash, opened with a special tribute to the late NBA player.
Fox News' Ryan Gaydos and Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.