Kawhi Leonard is one of many NBA stars mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, but the former Toronto Raptors star reveals that he and Bryant were good friends who spoke regularly.
In a new interview, Leonard reveals that Bryant was actually one of the first people he talked to after he led the Raptors to last year’s NBA championship.
“I’m a guy who spoke to Kobe before the season, and right after we won in the locker room,” says Leonard. “I worked out with him before I went to Toronto… he was the first or second guy we talked to, other than our teammates and our family after we won, in the locker room.”
Adds Leonard: “I thought about him every game.”
During the interview, Leonard also confirms that he would often use the same pilot as Bryant, Ara Zobayan, who died alongside Bryant in Sunday’s helicopter crash.
“I’ve flown with him a lot,” Leonard adds, calling the late pilot “a great guy, super nice” and “one of the best pilots.”
According to Leonard, Zobayan would often drop him off and tell him he was then on his way to go pick up Bryant, or vice versa, with the athletes passing along greetings to each other through the pilot.
Yahoo! Sports’ Chris B. Haynes shared more details: