Kobe Bryant Honored With Special Tributes at First Los Angeles Lakers Game Since His Death
After postponing their game against the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this week, the Lakers are getting back on the court to pay tribute to the NBA legend during their Friday game at Staples Center against the Portland Trail Blazers. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. To pay their respects to the basketball star, the Staples Center's entire court was dedicated to Bryant.
Both his number 24 and number 8 jerseys were draped across every chair at the venue.
Staples Center tonight 🙏 pic.twitter.com/PBQRQ8FzeG— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 31, 2020
“We’ve been through our ups and been through our downs. I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout.” pic.twitter.com/AJDrr1WDIT— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020
The center of the court also has a black logo with KB on it, and the sidelines have Bryant's numbers 8 and 24 on them.
The players will also wear jerseys with a black patch that has KB on them.
ET learned earlier in the day that Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony will not be playing in Friday's game. A source told ET that the 35-year-old NBA star opted to miss the game with his team because "it's too hard for him" after Bryant’s death.
Since his tragic death, Los Angeles natives, as well as people all over the world, have been mourning Bryant. The athlete's former teammates, including Shaquille O'Neal, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom, shared heartbreaking messages. Also affected by his death was LeBron James, who was seen breaking down in tears after hearing the sad news.
On Monday, James -- who became a Laker after Bryant retired -- broke his silence on Bryant's death. "I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man [I'm] sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!" James wrote in part. "I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!!"
James, as well as Anthony Davis, recently got tattoos in honor of Bryant.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel was also emotional on Wednesday, talking about the team's great loss. Bryant was a Los Angeles Laker his entire 20-year NBA career and was an icon in the Lakers organization, winning five championships. Vogel said the team was obviously "deeply saddened" by his tragic death. He noted that the tragedy has brought the Lakers team closer.
"It's been a deeply saddening time for all of us," Vogel said, noting that now, the focus is on making Bryant proud. "We want to represent what Kobe was about, more than anything. We've always wanted to make him proud, and that's not going to be any different here."
As for Bryant's wife, Vanessa, she released a statement on Instagram on Wednesday, expressing her heartbreak and devastation, as well as her gratitude for the monumental outpouring of love and condolences.
For more on Bryant's life and legacy, watch below.
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