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'RIP to the GOAT' | Ben Wallace responds to Kobe Bryant's death

Ben Wallace and Kobe Bryant were a part of the same NBA generation.
Credit: AP
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant has his shot blocked by Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace (3) after being fouled by Chauncey Billups (1) in the second quarter in Auburn Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Pistons legend Ben Wallace faced Kobe Bryant on the court numerous times during their parallel careers in the NBA. Sunday, Wallace, who owns the Grand Rapids Drive—the Pistons G-League team, issued a statement Sunday reacting to the news of Kobe Byrant's death. 

"Kobe was the ultimate competitor both on and off the court. I had the privilege of playing against him several times and got to see first hand the passion he brought to the game of basketball," the statement read in part. 

The two players were a part of the same NBA generation that stoked the Pistons-Lakers rivalry through the 2004 playoffs. Wallace joined the NBA in 1996 and retired in 2012. Bryant also joined in 1996 and played until 2016. The basketball giants faced off in the 2004 NBA finals, and the underdog Pistons won the series 4-1. 

"Kobe put his all into the game he loved and the NBA and world of basketball is better because of him. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bryant family as we mourn the loss of Kobe and his daughter Gianna. There will never be another Mamba. RIP to the GOAT," Wallace said. 

Credit: AP
San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan (21), West, Detroit Pistons Ben Wallace (3), East, and Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (8), West, vie for the ball under the basket during first half play of the 2003 NBA All Star Game in Atlanta Sunday, Feb. 9, 2003. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Byrant and his 13-year-old daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California. Nine people died in the incident. 

RELATED: Michigan sports community reacts to Kobe Bryant's death

Former Michigan State basketball star Magic Johnson also reacted to the news, saying he is in disbelief and was crying all morning. 

"I love him, his family and what he stood for on the court and off the court," Johnson said. 

Johnson called Kobe "My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time," and he posted photos of the two of them together. 

"Words can’t express the impact that he had on the game of basketball. I know basketball fans all over the world will miss him, especially the City of Los Angeles," said Johnson. 

The former Laker said Kobe had an impact of the city of Los Angeles by serving the homeless, being an advocate for women's basketball and coaching his daughter's basketball team. 

Johnson said he is praying for Kobe's wife, his daughters, his parents and his sisters. "We will always be here for the Bryant family."

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