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Dallas Mavericks to retire No. 24 in honor of Lakers icon Kobe Bryant

Dallas Mavericks to retire No. 24 in honor of Lakers icon Kobe Bryant
Flowers lie outside the entrance of the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in memory of Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif. Photo by John McCoy/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban announced the franchise will retire Kobe Bryant's famous No. 24 jersey number in a tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend.

Bryant, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif., along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. The group was headed to Mamba Sports Academy, a facility that Bryant created and coached at, for a girls basketball game when their helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances.

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Bryant, who played all 20 seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers, was a nemesis of the Mavericks for many years. In 2005, he scored 62 points against Dallas in three quarters despite being greeted by a variety of defenses. He held a 42-22 overall record against the Mavs in the regular season.

"We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," Cuban said in a statement Sunday night. "Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father.

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"Kobe's legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick. Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa [Bryant] and the family, the Lakers organization and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere."

Bryant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, retired from the league in 2016 after winning five NBA championships and one Most Valuable Player Award (2008) with the Lakers.

The NBA postponed Tuesday night's game between the L.A. Clippers and Lakers as the organizations attempt to cope with the tragedy.

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