"These athletes represented the future of the WNBA", Englebert said at the start of the draft.
"When David Stern launched the WNBA 23 years ago, he changed the course of women's basketball in the US forever ..."
Following in Bryant's footsteps, countless National Basketball Association players took to social media during the draft on Friday night to congratulate the WNBA's newest players.
Payton's father and Sarah's husband, Chris, then said a few words. "Use that Mamba Mentality".
J.J. and Lexi Altobelli - the siblings of Alyssa and children of John and Keri - next said a few words on their family's behalf.
Flip the page for Vanessa thanking them and giving everyone words of encouragement and people giving her words of encouragement. "There's no doubt in our mind that she would have made it to the WNBA after her years at OR".
Gianna's mom, Vanessa Bryant, spoke about the tribute in a video on her Instagram. "All I know is she caught my heart and I just knew that she was the one". "Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA - this is his sweatshirt", she added, referencing the orange hoodie she donned. The three of them died in the helicopter crash with Bryant in January.
Each girl, 13 years old at the time of the crash, was a promising basketball prospect with dreams of playing in college and eventually in the WNBA.
A shirt bearing Bryant's name and her chosen squad number, two, will be picked in the draft as a tribute to the youngster when the annual WNBA selection takes place on Friday.
Ionescu and Kobe held a special bond.
The first-ever WNBA draft was definitely one to remember.