SASKATOON -- When Mik Sather heard the news of Kobe Bryant’s death, he couldn’t believe it.

"It’s tough to see The Black Mamba go, he’s a legend, he’s the number one," the basketball fan said.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant, 41, and his 13 year-old daughter Gianna were among the nine people who died in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.

"It’s crazy to even fathom that he would be gone right now, and his daughter. It’s so sad, innocent lives," Sather said.

His greatest memory of Bryant was watching the guard score 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

Sather says he hopes the popular expression "Kobe" that many say when throwing something at a target helps to keep the legacy of Bryant alive. He has also heard that people will start saying “For Kobe.”

Raúl García, the Saskatchewan Rattlers marketing and communication manager, said the loss is "absolutely heartbreaking, absolutely tragic, not only for Kobe Bryant, but for everyone affected in the crash.

"He was proof that hard work triumphed over just talent, and I think that’s something a lot of people looked up to."

The news is hitting basketball fans hard around the globe, said fan Navroj Bhullar.

"I think it’s felt worldwide, it doesn’t matter where you are."