Kobe Bryant died less than 24 hours ago and already the iconic former NBA star is being remembered in meaningful tributes.
In addition to the fans gathering outside the Staples Center, a special gesture was shared on Sunday at the game between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs.
At the start of the game, the teams decided that the first team to get the ball would willingly accept the 24-second shot clock violation, letting the clock run out in Bryant’s honor due to the late athlete being number 24 on the L.A. Lakers.
“They decided that whoever wins the tip and in this case Toronto, they are going to let the shot clock run out because of the number 24 to honor Kobe Bryant,” one commentator was heard saying.
The somber crowd stood applauding the teams’ decision, chanting, “Kobe, Kobe!”
Similarly, at the Houston Rockets vs. the Denver Nuggets game, a moment of silence was held in Bryant’s honor as tearful players mourned the star’s death. Following the moment of silence, the entire arena began chanting Bryant’s name.
L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was overcome with emotion in a pre-game press conference, speaking through tears.
“I just don’t have a lot to say,” he began. “The news is just devastating to everybody. I knew him a long time and he means a lot to me, obviously. He was such a great opponent. It’s what you want in sports. He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have.”
Other sports stars are also paying tribute. Soccer star Neymar Jr. held up the numbers two and four to the camera after scoring a goal in France in Bryant’s honor.
At the NFL’s Pro Bowl, Bryant was honored during a time out and the crowd began chanting his name.
The National Basketball Players Association issued a statement on Sunday, writing, “We are stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant. Words cannot express his impact on our Players, the NBA, and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also released a statement, saying, “The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary.”
NBA TV commentators clarified on Sunday that there are no immediate plans to cancel or postpone any games as a result of the news. Similarly, the 2020 GRAMMY Awards are set to be aired live from the Staples Center on Sunday evening, where Bryant’s fans have been gathering and creating a makeshift memorial in his honor.
ET confirmed that Bryant died on Sunday morning as the result of a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Later, TMZ reported that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also on board and died alongside her father. The celebrity tributes and condolences have been pouring in since.