Players in tears, teams running down the 24-second shot clock on purpose and stars with heartfelt messages written on shoes… how emotional NBA paid tribute to Kobe Bryant after legend’s tragic death
- Kobe Bryant tragically passed away at the age of 41 in California on Sunday
- The LA Lakers legend died when his private helicopter went down in Calabasas
- Tributes have poured in from celebrities, other basketball players and teams
- The 24-second shot-clock was run down during games to honour Bryant’s jersey
- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced they will retire the No 24 jersey
The world of basketball is in a state of shock following the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant.
The 41-year-old and his daughter Gianna, 13, were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others in the hills of Calabasas, California on Sunday morning.
His untimely death saw tributes pour in from all over the world while his former colleagues honoured his memory.
Tributes came from across the world of sport after news that basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning
While there was much deliberation whether games should go ahead just hours after he died, many teams decided it’s what the Los Angeles Lakers legend would’ve wanted.
The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs agreed before their encounter that whoever won the tip would purposely see out the 24-second shot-clock to start the game while others triggered the eight-second backcourt violation immediately after to recognise the two numbers Bryant wore during his career.
‘I think it was the right decision for us to go out there and compete today in his honor. I think that’s what he would have wanted,’ Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said.
Fans turn out at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to pay tribute to Bryant on Sunday
‘Obviously, throughout the game you think about it. The timeouts, and just random dead moments of the game, he’s on your mind, because it’s just such an unfortunately sad situation. It was a tough game to play as far as your energy and where your heart is, to say the least.’
In an ultimate move of respect, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced his franchise will retire the No 24 jersey in Bryant’s honour.
The news appeared to be too much for some, with many NBA stars breaking down on the court in tears following the devastating news.
The 41-year-old wore the No 8 and No 24 jerseys for the Lakers during his brilliant career
Bryant retired from the game of basketball in 2016 and finished as a five-time NBA champion
Atalanta Hawks star Trae Young paid tribute by donning the No 8 jersey to start the game
LA Clippers players bow the head in an emotional tribute before their game on Sunday
Close friend Kyrie Irving turned up for the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden before leaving after hearing the news.
LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers gave a heartbreaking pre-game interview where he admitted that he couldn’t tell his players to ‘go out and play’ just hours after Bryant’s passing.
‘Sorry I don’t have a lot to say,’ Rivers said. ‘I have to go talk to a team before a game and tell them to play and I can’t.’
Clippers coach Doc Rivers breaks down while addressing the media at the Amway Center
Big screens in and around the Staples Center pay tribute to Bryant’s memory
Heartfelt messages were plastered on shoes before games just hours after the news broke on the west coast of America.
Atalanta Hawks point guard Trae Young paid tribute by donning the No 8 jersey to start the game before switching to his typical No 11 in the 152-133 win over the Washington Wizards.
‘One of the last conversations we had, he was just telling me how much he’s seen my game progress and he’s just been happy for me,’ Young said between pauses.
‘He said how proud he was of me and how he wants me to continue to be a role model for kids growing up and for Gigi and all the kids looking up to me to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out.’