Michael Jordan on Kobe Bryant's death: 'Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling'

The death of Kobe Bryant at age 41 has stunned the basketball world and beyond after the NBA icon died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in in Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter was reportedly among the nine who perished in the crash. Shaquille O’Neal tweeted about the loss of “my brother,” shortly after the news broke — sentiments Michael Jordan echoed in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

Michael Jordan responds

“Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling,” Jordan wrote as he described Bryant as “like a little brother to me.”

Bryant, a 6-6 shooting guard, drew immediate comparisons to Jordan when he joined the NBA in 1996.

A fiery competitor who won five NBA championships, those comparisons rang true as Bryant went on to become one of the great players in the history of the game.

Michael Jordan described Kobe Bryant as "like a little brother to me" in response to his death. (Vince BucciI/AFP via Getty Images)

Though Bryant fell one ring short of his quest to match Jordan in championships, he surpassed him on the career scoring list to become the league’s third-leading scorer of all time until LeBron James eclipsed him on Saturday.

Bryant never quite reached Jordan’s status in the conversation as the best to ever play the game. But falling a touch short of Jordan’s legacy on the basketball court added up to a remarkable, iconic career for Bryant.

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