Van Riemsdyk had respect for Bryant’s professionalism

James van Riemsdyk

VOORHEES – Professional athletes live in a different world, knowing they’re the best of the best and perhaps giving off an air of invincibility.

Which is part of the reason why the Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk was so shaken when he learned the tragic death of basketball star Kobe Bryant.

“I had never met him but I still felt that devastating sort of sadness,’’ JVR said after Thursday’s practice at the Skate Zone.

“We’re all athletes and it could be anyone in that situation. It just seemed from how he was, so invincible. You can put it in perspective that way.’’

When van Riemsdyk learned of the helicopter crash this past Sunday, he felt a range of emotions.

“I just really respected the way that he approached the different professional challenges,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “How he approached being a basketball player and how he approached the second phase of his life.

“He was doing more the artistic and creative stuff. I definitely appreciated that. . .the precision, how he was all in for all those things. It was awesome.’’

Van Riemsdyk, who hails from Middletown, N.J., said he had an uncle who was a college basketball coach down at the Jersey Shore.

“He would just tell me legendary stuff about Kobe,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “In that sense, he was an icon. It sad to see all the victims of that accident.

“It’s a shame it takes events like that to make you realize you have to take it one day at a time. And appreciate every day you have.’’

If nothing else, it can show how random each person’s fate is.

“Obviously we’re all human and anything can happen,’’ JVR said. “But you don’t necessarily expect something like that to happen to someone like him.

“Especially all that strength that he displayed over the course of his career. It’s a sad situation and it makes you feel for his family and the families of all the other victims that we involved.’’

Some of the Flyers play basketball in the lower hallway at the Wells Fargo Center as a way of loosening up before a game. They follow the sport pretty closely.

“There’s kind of that fraternity of professional athletes,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “A lot of us have a similar life experience.

“It’s the commitment you show and the different things around it. It’s an appreciation for each other, for sure.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2471 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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