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Julius Randle says Kobe Bryant was his idol, Paul George calls him 'his Michael Jordan'

High praise for Bryant after the Lakers' loss to the Pacers.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

When Kobe Bryant announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season on Sunday afternoon, the atmosphere around the Los Angeles Lakers home date with the Indiana Pacers became about a lot more than a basketball game between a lottery bound team and an Eastern Conference playoffs contender. The mood turned more reflective, with players and coaches alike telling the assembled media what Kobe Bryant meant to them.

"For me it's sad," said Julius Randle (as captured by the Lakers' Twitter feed). "Growing up he was my hero. I tried doing everything like him. He's my idol." Randle was not the only young forward in the building who grew up idolizing Bryant. For Pacers superstar Paul George, who grew up in Antelope Valley, California, just an hour outside of Los Angeles, Bryant was a basketball inspiration. "Growing up, that was the standard. He was the best player and it wasn't close," George told Bob Garcia of Sports Out West.

George wasn't done heaping superlatives on Bryant:

On a night when many were debating where Bryant would ultimately rank in NBA history, George was not the only one to compare him to Michael Jordan:

Where Bryant and Jordan rank is ultimately an argument for another day, but Bryant ultimately just appreciates the love shown by his fellow players:

Bryant's walk into the sunset has officially begun. 66 more games to go.

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