A year later and it still does not feel real that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant has passed away.
Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident last January 26, and the NBA world has not been the same since. The Lakers were able to win the 2020 NBA championship in his honor, but the sting of his loss looms over the franchise every day.
Los Angeles is currently in the midst of a road trip, and head coach Frank Vogel explained his decision to give the team day off on Bryant’s anniversary. “To me it’s not really a day of remembrance,” Vogel said.
“Those are days like his birthday, the 81-point night and things like that. This is more of a somber tone, so I’m going to give our guys the day off and let them be to themselves and manage that day however they see fit.
“We’ll have some workouts and shooting available if guys want to do that, but it’s going to be a day off.”
With how emotionally draining and heavy a day like the anniversary of Bryant’s death is, it only makes sense for Vogel to give the roster time off. Nearly every player on the Lakers roster has acknowledged it is still difficult dealing with the reality that the icon is gone, so the reprieve should be more than welcomed.
It should be noted that the Lakers will be playing in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia on Wednesday, but hopefully they are able to focus on the game and honor the legend with another win.
Vogel on how he has coached Lakers after Kobe’s passing
Vogel had to overcome obstacle after obstacle in his first year coaching the Lakers, but managing them after Bryant’s death had to be one of the most difficult things he ever faced. Vogel was still able to guide them to a championship, which required filling multiple roles.
“You just try to lead the group the best you can on a day-to-day basis with what feels right, what you feel like your players need, and try to support them and bring them together as much as possible so we can go through that process together and heal together,” Vogel explained.
“That was the biggest thing for me last year. For this year, I think it’s just appropriate to give guys some time to manage the day to themselves and how they see fit.”
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