The entire NBA world continues to mourn the death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant after he, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash this past weekend.
With such a devastating tragedy taking place, it has been hard for the entire league to focus on basketball. The NBA postponed the Lakers’ first game this week, which the Clippers had no issue with.
It took some time, but Kobe’s wife Vanessa, as well as Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka all recently put out statements about the accident.
Pelinka was especially close to Kobe as his agent and best friend. He also was the godfather of Gianna, so this loss was obviously very difficult for the head of the Lakers’ front office.
“Last Sunday is not the end of the story. It’s just a new beginning,” Pelinka said in the statement. “Kobe and Gigi’s legacies will live on – and gain even more power and influence. All of us touched by them will now try to become torch carriers of their legacies.
“And, while we do that, we can be certain of this: Kobe and Gigi will continue on, forever, playing a joy-filled game of basketball in heaven above.”
Before the Lakers returned to the court to host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night at Staples Center, the organization paid tribute to Kobe with a video and pregame ceremony.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 1, 2020
The Lakers’ tribute was beautiful and emotional, as expected from the classy organization that is grieving the loss of one of its legends just as much as his many fans are. Tributes throughout the league have all been great, from rivals like the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings, to the team that shares Staples Center, the Clippers.
While the Clippers have covered all Lakers banners and retired jerseys, they left Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 on display Thursday night.
Players throughout the league have also paid tribute to Kobe, Gianna and the other victims in a number of ways such as writing their names on shoes and changing numbers. Lakers guard Quinn Cook changed from No. 2 (Gianna’s numbers) to No. 28 to combine both Gianna and Kobe’s numbers.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and his staff are wearing various pairs from Kobe’s signature shoe line.
While playing will not be easy for anyone in the organization, they can take solace in the fact that is 100% what Bryant would have wanted. Hopefully, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the team can embrace the “Mamba Mentality” and everything else that Kobe stood for when they are out on the court playing in his memory.