By Matthew DeGeorge
Darryl Reynolds couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.
Not when his agent texted him with what he hoped was a hoax. Not when the Villanova basketball team, for which Reynolds won a national title in 2016 and is the director of basketball operations, went their separate ways on an off day Sunday. Not as he and his family descended with dozens of mourners on Lower Merion High School to pay their respects to the player for whom the gymnasium is named.
“It’s the last thing we thought that we would be here for today,” Reynolds said. “… It doesn’t feel real.”
Though Reynolds was closer than most to the epicenter of the legend of Kobe Bryant, he felt the same shock as was reverberating throughout the sports world Sunday at news of the basketball player’s death, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Southern California.
Bryant was in many ways a colossal figure, his one-named moniker often invoked far from its flesh-and-blood context. The last tweet he sent Saturday night congratulating LeBron James for passing him for third on the all-time NBA scoring list, in Philadelphia no less with James wearing “Mamba 4 Life” on his sneakers, spoke to the idea of Kobe, the 17-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion.