Retired 76ers star Allen Iverson honored Kobe Bryant on social media following the Lakers legend's death on Sunday.
"Words cannot express how I'm feeling today. The only 2 words that ring in my head - devastated and heartbroken. I cannot seem to shake this feeling no matter what I've tried to do since hearing this yesterday.
"People will always remember how we competed against each other in the league, but it goes so much deeper than that for me. ...His generosity and respect for the game is something that I witnessed first-hand every time we stepped on the dance floor to compete."
Iverson's comments come one day after Bryant died in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were headed to a youth basketball game with a group of seven other passengers. All nine people were killed in the crash.
Iverson and Bryant were drafted in 1996, with Iverson going as the top overall pick and Bryant selected 13th. They faced off in the 2001 NBA Finals, which the Lakers won in five games.
Bryant won five championships with the Lakers during his 20-year career, which he spent solely with the franchise. In a 2017 piece for The Players' Tribune, Bryant said he studied Iverson "maniacally" to break down all of his strengths and weaknesses to find a way to beat the Sixers star.
In his statement, Iverson expressed his condolences for the families of those killed in the crash.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Vanessa, their children and the families of all of the victims of yesterday's tragedy. As a father, I cannot wrap my head around how they must feel.
"We are not okay. But we will find the strength to pull through this together because that's what Kobe would want us to do."
Sports Illustrated Remembers Kobe Bryant: