“Every time I look at my tattoos, it puts me back in the perspective of time, or the inspiration behind it,” James says. “So that’s all part of the journey.” In that way, the Lakers’ All-Stars aren’t so different than the tattooed fans who rooted from Bryant from afar. They weren’t ready to let go, so they got something permanent they could hold onto. Ortega is a committed bodybuilder. In his Instagram profile picture he’s flexing bulging biceps in a gold No. 24 Bryant jersey. And though he connects first and foremost to Bryant’s love of family, he says, part of the reason he wanted a tattoo after Bryant’s death was so that he could look at his forearm on the days when the weight is a struggle and “see that it’s Kobe basically telling me, ‘You better not fuck around. Push through it.’”
Spike Lee’s suit wasn’t the only tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday night at the 2020 Oscars. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was also the first face that viewers and the crowd of Hollywood’s biggest names saw at the Dolby Theatre when the Academy Awards did its annual “in memoriam” segment. While Billie Eilish sang a cover of The Beatles’ Yesterday, Bryant holding his Oscar for Dear Basketball was on screen, along with a quote from a 2008 interview: “Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going.”
Inside one waiting area, a couple of dozen passengers sat glumly. Some of their charter flights had been grounded indefinitely because of poor visibility. They fidgeted with phones. Some watched CBS’s “Sunday Morning.” But Bryant glided into another lounge and walked with his small group of teenage basketball players, parents and a coach through the automatic glass doors. They wiggled into a warmed-up Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, white with two tones of blue stripes. Minutes later, at 9:06 a.m., they took to the air, on their way to the second day of a weekend tournament. The pilot steered the helicopter toward their destination in Thousand Oaks. As thick clouds loomed behind the hills to the north, they were one of the few helicopters in the sky.
In his sprawling county, where helicopters are used by many as taxis, aircraft troubles are not that rare. He told the assistant sheriff to keep him updated. Ten minutes later, another text came, with a lot more detail. Two words stuck out. “Confirmed Kobe,” it said.
Bryant, 41, had become known for his airborne commutes. In his last years as a star for the Los Angeles Lakers, he often took helicopters to practices and games, figuring it freed his time for other things, like family. By the time the Mambas arrived at Mamba Sports Academy late that morning, the two-day Mamba Cup was well underway. The tournament featured boys and girls, ages 9 to 14. Teams came from throughout California and several states.
Back in Orange County, John Altobelli was hard at work, preparing for the season opener of the Orange Coast College baseball team. He had coached the team since 1992, winning more than 700 games and four state junior-college championships, including in 2019. A scrimmage and fund-raiser on Saturday kept him away from his daughter Alyssa’s basketball games that day. But he planned to go on Sunday, dreading the drive that took 90 minutes, but often much longer in the city’s notorious traffic. Then his phone buzzed. It was Bryant. “Sweet,” Altobelli told an assistant coach. “Kobe’s taking us in the chopper.”
Bryant’s pilot, Zobayan, would have had final authority on the decision to leave, possibly confident that, in a helicopter, he could land or turn back if the weather worsened. It is not known if he consulted Island Express’s management. Friends and colleagues who knew Zobayan said it was unlikely he could have been pressured into flying by a celebrity client.
Villanueva, the sheriff, was still out running errands when he got the second text from his assistant sheriff, Steve Gross, at 10:20 a.m.: “From Captain Vanderhork, 8 dead, confirmed Kobe, one of his daughters, Pilot, and 5 others. Confirmation from owner of helicopter.”
By the time the sheriff arrived at Lost Hills sheriff’s station near the scene, family members of three of the victims, including Bryant’s family, and the general manager of the Lakers had already arrived. They feared the worst.
To understand why Kobe Bryant meant so much to the residents of the Taguig Tenement, you must first understand the Philippine love affair with basketball. In the Philippines, you can find the game everywhere, from tiny fishing villages to congested urban intersections. Basketball is played in cemeteries, amid rice paddies, along train tracks and on street corners. Courts come in all shapes and sizes. Full courts, half courts, quarter courts. Sometimes a hoop with no court. On the best courts there are fading free throw and 3-point lines, but more often there are ankle-wrecking cracks and curbs and an edict to watch out for cars -- both parked and moving. "Basketball is a religion to us," Swift says. "We put basketball courts wherever we want to, wherever we please. On gates, on trees, on top of sand, concrete, dirt, whatever. All you really need is a ring and a basketball and you can be by yourself and play this game peacefully and enjoy."
Almost instantly, images of the portrait went viral. It even was shown on the Staples Center video board in Los Angeles during the Lakers' tribute to Kobe prior to the first game after his death. Strangers started flocking to the Tenement to pay their respects to Bryant and his daughter. One young woman named Britney stuck with Swift. She lived in Los Angeles and was visiting Manila for work. The photo found her. She knew she had to come by. "The emotion she came in with, that's when I knew we touched a lot of people," Swift says. "This was not just a Filipino thing."
The action was moving away from Bernstein. He employs, however, a system of remote cameras on the other end of the floor, which can be triggered by a button taped to his camera. As James leaped, Bernstein clicked. “As soon as I saw him elevate and then do anything with the ball, I just banged it,” Bernstein said. “Honestly, I thought I shot too late, because he’s not known for that kind of windmill thing.”
“But then I found this folder of photos of he and I, which I had put together,” Bernstein said. “And that was just brutal because it goes back to his rookie year.” He posted 10 pictures of them together on Instagram. “I feel like it’s my service, my job to be a conduit between people’s need to be connected to Kobe in some way shape and form,” Bernstein said, “and if they can do it through my photos or my stories or whatever or through the book we did together, it’s extremely gratifying to me through this malaise of grief.”
The slam by James, a double-clutch reverse off an outlet pass from Avery Bradley, appeared to be a carbon copy of a dunk Bryant threw down on Nov. 18, 2001, against the Sacramento Kings -- from the approach to the launching spot to the side of the court at Staples Center being the same. "Ever see the movie 'The 6th Man'?" James asked after the Lakers' 125-120 victory over the Warriors. "Kobe came down, put himself in my body and gave me that dunk on that break."
James said that although he saw Bryant complete that dunk countless times during his 20-year career, he was not planning to mimic it going into the Houston game. "I didn't really predetermine that either until I jumped," James said. "I just jumped and kind of figured it out, and then ... it's crazy how it's the same exact dunk, the same exact hoop that Kobe did [it on] -- what, 19 years ago or something like that? That was nice."
ESPN: "Watching him play inspired me. It was a dream come true to get to the league and play against him." —Steph Curry on what Kobe Bryant meant to him.
Then before the game, the Warriors showed a video montage of Bryant’s highlights and had nine beams of lights on the court to honor the victims. The Warriors also asked for 24 seconds of silence. “We’ll all still grieving,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s an amazing sense of loss even for those of us who didn’t know him. Everything feels hollow and we grieve for Kobe and Gianna and of course the other families. “It’s something that’s not going to get any easier right away.”
Howard Chen: #Kobe/Gigi shirts today in San Francisco for Lakers @ Warriors pic.twitter.com/OOEapRLRHj
Just before it crashed, the helicopter carrying the basketball star Kobe Bryant and eight others hurtled toward the ground at faster than 4,000 feet per minute — twice the rate the authorities had originally reported — forming a two-foot-deep crater when it slammed into a hill, investigators said in a preliminary report released on Friday.
The helicopter, which showed no clear signs of serious engine failure, was traveling at about 184 miles per hour and fighting to clear low-hanging clouds when it crashed close to a mountain bike trail near Calabasas, Calif., the National Transportation Safety Board said in the report.
But Friday’s initial findings did seem to play down the possibility of engine failure as a cause. The two engines recovered from the wreckage showed no clear evidence of major internal failure, the report said. Before crashing, the pilot, Ara Zobayan, had requested special permission to fly through the low-visibility control zones around Burbank and Van Nuys Airport.
Monte Poole: For those who have asked: The Warriors plan on Saturday to memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant, and all victims in of the Jan. 26 tragedy. There will be special T-shirts and a video tribute. Chase Center exterior lights will be purple and gold.
Through it all, a source said, the Lakers’ pursuit of roster changes in the past week was half-hearted. And that goes back to the tragic helicopter crash that took the life of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others on January 26, just 11 days ahead of the trade deadline. While much of the league has begun to move on from Bryant’s death, these Lakers are just in the early stages of that process. Going through the experience together has bonded them and it proved difficult to break that bond within the roster for the sake of some trade or another.
“There was not a lot of appetite for changing things,” one team source said. “There wasn’t a lot of appetite for telling players they’re going to Minnesota or Atlanta or somewhere, Charlotte, wherever. If there’s an offer you can’t say no to, of course, you’re going to take it. But the idea of breaking things up after what’s happened with Kobe, it wasn’t something anyone seemed to want to do.”
Mark Medina: Vanessa Bryant confirms Kobe & Gianna's memorial will be on Feb. 24 at 10 am at Staples Center bit.ly/2S8GYcZ pic.twitter.com/Y75wvyCRS5
Wreckage from the helicopter that crashed last month and killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others did not show any outward evidence of engine failure, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the others died in the Jan. 26 crash in Calabasas, California. The group was flying to a girls basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy. Gianna's team was coached by Bryant and was playing in the tournament.
The NTSB is investigating the accident, including any role heavy fog played, and a final report isn't expected for at least a year. A witness told the NTSB that the helicopter was flying forward and downward through the fog before it crashed right into the hillside. The witness said he saw the helicopter for 1 to 2 seconds before it hit the hill.
Los Angeles will host a public memorial Feb. 24 at Staples Center for Kobe Bryant and eight others killed last month in a helicopter crash, two sources familiar with the event told The Times on Thursday. The event will cap weeks of tributes across the city following the Jan. 26 crash that killed the Lakers icon, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, as well the helicopter pilot and parents, players and a coach on Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy basketball team.
Mirjam Swanson: Can confirm: The Kobe Bryant memorial will be happening at Staples Center on 2/24. The Clippers' game at 7:30 that night vs. Memphis will go on as scheduled.
Jay-Z is opening up about the final conversation he had with Kobe Bryant just weeks before the NBA star's untimely death. "'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said Bryant told him as they celebrated New Year's at the hip hop mogul's home.
"So Kobe was a guy that looked up to me and we've hung out multiple times," Jay-Z responded. "He was last in my house on New Year's and he was just in the greatest space I've seen him in and one of the last things he said to me was, 'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said. The rapper continued: "That was one of the most hurtful things because he was so proud. The look on his face...I looked at him and said, 'Oh she's going to be the best female basketball player in the world.' He was just so proud of what he said. That was a tough one. My wife and I are taking that really tough."
Chris Haynes: Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie drops his Mark II signature shoe on Feb. 8 and in honor of Kobe Bryant and Gigi, 100 percent of net proceeds during first nine days of sales will be donated to the MambaOnThree Fund. Purchase at projectdream.io/shop pic.twitter.com/8jTnwzotNJ
The first Italian basketball team that Kobe Bryant’s father played for retired the Lakers superstar’s jersey to the rafters in a pregame ceremony Wednesday. “You began to play here and as an adult you made us dream. Our colors are with you in the sky,” read a huge banner in Italian that fans of NPC Rieti held up before the game against Scafati in Italy’s second division.
DeMar DeRozan never will forget the last conversation he had with Kobe Bryant. “Couple months ago, probably December, through texts,” said the San Antonio Spurs guard after his team’s morning shootaround ahead of Monday’s game against the Clippers at Staples Center, a 108-105 loss. “We talked about the Mamba Academy, talking about my daughter. She’ll be 7 this year. (We talked) about getting her started with the girls’ academy.”
In 2004, at age 15, DeRozan attended Bryant’s summer basketball camp, Kobe Academy, at a local high school, an experience he claims changed his game and, ultimately, his life. “Fifteen years old” he said. “Ever since then he’s just been part mentor and part friend, since I was 15 years old. It just started from there, being part of that, taking advice from him, standing out and being one of those L.A. guys that had that connection with him and taking it from there.
“I think all the guys that were there were just nervous to be around when your favorite player is one of the best players. And it was a small company of players that were in that group. I think I’m the only one who carried on from there.” What DeRozan learned in those summers could not be quantified. “(It was) everything,” he said. “I mean, everything, you name it. From me posting up, to footwork, everything. You try to model yourself after him and that’s what I did. Everything I watched. Everything.”
The call came that Ball State University professor Nick Elam had been waiting for. His clockless basketball vision — born amid the ruckus of college buddies watching March Madness — was getting ready to play out on basketball's biggest stage. On the other end of the line were a couple of executives from the NBA league office. Elam's invention of an untimed game ending — coined the Elam Ending — would be used in this year's NBA All-Star Game, they told him. Elam would later learn the NBA was using his invention to honor the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
After Bryant's death, the league announced it would use 24 points. Elam predicts it will be as exciting a finish to an All-Star game as the event has seen in its 69 years. And it will honor Bryant perfectly. "Kobe Bryant was many things and one of them? On the court in the fourth quarter, that was his time. He took over," said Elam. "At the end of this game, we are going to see some of the best players in the world on one court and we will see them step up and rise to that."
So whether the numbers have been appearing for a reason or not, Siegel believes, the fact we are recognizing them represents something significant in us. “It’s a wake-up call to pay attention to what he meant,” Siegel said. “People are having these experiences. Is it just weird coincidences? Or, maybe the reason people are experiencing these numerical connections is because of the message behind them.”
Joe Favorito: Tearful @NancyLieberman told story of how #kobebryant called her #mamamamba & asked her to come train his daughter Saturday night prior to crash. Told Diana Munson she will be a role model for the family over time . #munsondinner #SportsBiz
Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, posted new tributes to her husband Wednesday. The chopper was reportedly heading to a sports academy in Thousands Oaks, California, for Gigi’s basketball game. Wednesday, Vanessa posted a photo of a smiling Kobe, calling him her best friend.
Kuzma has been “trying to play to exhaustion” partly because of Bryant’s wisdom. He insisted that had less to do with the trade deadline, though, and more to do with thinking about Bryant since his recent passing. “It was a good time for me to really just look back and reflect on what made Kob’ so great,” Kuzma said. “Everybody talks about the ‘Mamba Mentality’ of being a vicious scorer and looking to score, but that’s not even what that is. That mentality is to be tenacious, play with heart and be relentless at all times.”
Mark Medina: Dwight Howard said he got word Kobe Bryant agreed to help him out at the dunk contest. Dwight says it’s “heartbreaking” that couldn’t happen.
Mark Medina: Dwight Howard regrets he didn’t tell Kobe Bryant how much he appreciated him pic.twitter.com/JVeixMkFaU
Harrison Faigen: Dwight Howard on what was going through his mind when he heard Kobe died: "I didn't know what to do or say. Just extremely hurt. I'm still kind of lost for words.... I didn't get a chance to tell him how appreciative I was of our time together."
Jeff McDonald: Gregg Popovich on Kobe Bryant, as the Spurs prepare to play the Lakers for this first time since the NBA legend's death. It is a 2-minute soliloquy:
“Every game is going to be emotional,” said LeBron James, who wore a purple bracelet after practice Monday, along with beads that matched Bryant's jersey numbers (8, 24). “But time heals all, and it’s going to continue to help us every game. "We’ll continue to lean on each other and lean on our crowd. Our crowd is going to be with us. We have to continue to push forward. That’s what he’d want us to do.”
“There was some weird stuff going on,” James said. “That’s just pretty cool. It’s a daily reminder.” And with those reminders, the Lakers might feel joy and pain. “There is no way one individual can do it on their own,” James said. “You have to lean on somebody in order to gain strength. That’s the only reason we’ve been able to get through it together.”
An autographed box score sheet from the night Kobe Bryant scored 81 points has just hit the auction block -- and some of the proceeds will go to the families of the helicopter crash victims. The rare document was personally signed by Bryant in blue ballpoint pen shortly after he dropped the incredible figure on the Toronto Raptors in that legendary 2006 performance.
We're told a portion of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to the MambaOnThree Fund -- a charity set up to help the families of the other passengers that died in the tragic helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, on Jan. 26.
Michael Scotto: Devin Booker on Kobe Bryant: He changed my life and not just on the court. Following his mentality, his footwork, his passion for the game, his will to win and his work ethic. But it’s bigger than that. He’s a legend, and he’s forever. I think he left a mark on this world forever
And if you had idolized Bryant as long as DeRozan had — if you’d met him when you were 15, and then watched him evolve from a sports hero to a mentor to a friend — you did not need to go looking for Bryant, because he was everywhere you looked. “It’s definitely surreal,” DeRozan said, sitting in a courtside chair Monday, in his first visit to Staples Center since Bryant’s death eight days earlier. “Just kind of an eerie feeling that you don’t want to believe. Like a bad dream or something.”
Mike Finger: Gregg Popovich, who has mourned his own loss in recent years, on the pain felt by Kobe Bryant’s family: “There’s nothing like losing somebody. Nothing like it. Nobody knows what it’s like unless you’ve done it.”
When ESPN the Magazine stopped publishing in September, ESPN execs said the company would continue to print a handful of commemorative issues each year. The first of those drops this Friday -- a 96-page issue on Kobe Bryant. The publication will carry the ESPN brand -- not the ESPN the Magazine one. “We specifically limited this to be a test case to do the work, see how the process goes and see if this makes sense,” said ESPN VP/Storytelling & Special Projects Alison Overholt. “We’ll evaluate when and how often it makes sense to do something like this.”
James, voted as an All-Star captain, will lead his team Feb. 16 against the squad selected by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, the league's reigning MVP. James said the league contacted him last week, looping him into plans to have one team wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant and one team wear No. 2 in honor of Gianna, who was a budding basketball star herself as a 13-year-old. "They asked me which number did I want to wear, the 24 or 2 for my team, and I picked 2," James said Monday.
Why No. 2 and not the No. 24 for his former Olympic teammate, contemporary competitor and the man he is tasked with taking the torch from as the next great superstar for the Lakers? "Zhuri," James said. Zhuri Nova is James' 5-year-old daughter. Before James changed his Instagram profile picture to a photograph of Bryant holding Gianna in his arms after the Lakers' championship win in Orlando, Florida, in 2009, James' profile pic was a photo of Zhuri with a big smile.
Harrison Faigen: While concluding an answer on why Kobe was such a topic of discussion, even at the Super Bowl, LeBron had this to say: "He's a legend. And legends never die."
Melissa Rohlin: Vogel said Lakers' closeness, especially after this tragedy, is a consideration as trade deadline nears. "Yes, I think it is part of the equation, but I don’t think it’s going to be something that prevents us from doing something if there’s an opportunity to improve our roster."
NBC Sports Chicago: You also announced plans for Team LeBron (James) to wear No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) to wear No. 24 to honor Gianna and Kobe Bryant’s numbers, as well as jersey patches with nine stars to honor all victims. Some had suggested having one team wear Kobe’s No. 8 and the other wear Kobe’s No. 24. But this gesture had to touch all families involved, as well as current players? Adam Silver: It’s celebratory but emotional. This is what makes these great athletes such special people too. I think what we forget sometimes as fans is that this is a very public mourning period.
Silver: But at any given time, in a league of 450 players, dozens of coaches, hundreds of league executives, somebody is invariably going through some sort of personal tragedy — most often not known to the public. Yet our players and teams continue to compete. It’s in some ways why these athletes are so inspirational to people. And Kobe in particular because Kobe was all about competition, maybe more than any player I’ve known in the league. Not to take anything away from the greatest players ever, but his off-the-floor work ethic was beyond belief to other players in some cases.
NBC Sports Chicago: What have you seen from the NBA community from David’s passing to Kobe’s, which is hard for anybody to wrap their mind around? Adam Silver: It’s a reminder of how strong this family is. From team owners, former team owners, players, former players, executives at the league and teams and even alumni, it feels like a family organization. During difficult times, a family comes together. I’ve been really moved this week by the outpouring of support for not just Kobe’s family but the families of the other victims of that helicopter crash. I’ve been moved by the players’ desire to memorialize Kobe and his daughter at the All-Star game and the events that are now coming together — and also by those who want to make sure that we recognize David Stern at an otherwise celebratory occasion like All-Star weekend.
NBC Sports Chicago: You cited the celebratory nature of All-Star weekend. How do you as commissioner and as a league try to strike the proper balance between that while also honoring the legacies of Stern and Bryant? Adam Silver: By remaining authentic and not trying to force anything. By putting in place the platform both for memorializing but also celebrating and letting these events play out in their own way. That’s what I’ve learned over many years here. You don’t want to try to overproduce these events. I have no doubt that there will be spontaneous moments. I think some things we are planning may fall flat or not have the desired impact. But other small moments that we would’ve never anticipated would have the consequences they do will invariably end up being the most memorable moments of the weekend.
A massive memorial created by the public outside Staples Center after the death of former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was being dismantled Monday, with an official saying some of the items would go to Bryant's widow and other family members. The cleanup of flowers, balloons, jerseys, stuffed toys and basketballs began at 4 a.m., Staples Center President Lee Zeidman tweeted. A fence was erected around the site to keep the cleanup out of public view.
They had asked about prominent programs they might face and which tournament sites had the best hotels. They were looking forward to a future together, united under Bryant’s leadership. Now, Parker simply wants to make sure Bryant’s impact on the local basketball community will live on. “He planted a seed, he showed us how it could be done, and we’ve got to carry it through,” Parker said. “We’ve got to pay it forward. Somehow, some way, we have got to continue to grow the game and we’ve got to continue to support this game and these young ladies. It’s our job to carry it through.”
Breathing heavy and on the verge of physically shaking, Parker ran back upstairs, where the day before he had seen Bryant at his best. Now, he walked past the conference room where Team Mamba’s players were trying to cope with the worst. “My brothers said they could hear the screaming and crying coming out of the room,” Rosenthal said. “It was like nothing they’ve ever heard.”
Tournament play in the first-ever Mamba Cup came to a sudden halt, even before it was confirmed that the crash had killed all nine people aboard: Kobe and Gianna Bryant, two of Gianna’s teammates, three other parents, one assistant coach and the pilot. “Being right where he was coming to, and knowing what he was coming for, is what I’m struggling with,” Terry said.
Terry understood completely. Upon returning home to Dallas, he found it difficult just to coach two games this week, for his high school girls’ team at North Dallas Adventist Academy. “I was shaking going back into a gym,” Terry said. “My hands were literally shaking. I don’t know how the Lakers are going to do it.”
Well, this is a big deal ... Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he's on board with the movement to change the NBA logo to Kobe Bryant -- telling TMZ Sports, "I would support it." Not only have MILLIONS of people signed a petition to have the league swap out the current logo which features an image of Jerry West, but a bunch of NBA stars have backed it as well ... from Paul Pierce to Jamal Crawford and more.
There was a moment of silence in honor of Kobe Bryant at the Super Bowl in Miami on Sunday following the death of the basketball great, his daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers in a helicopter crash in California a week ago.
Robert Horry was stopped every couple of seconds to take a picture or sign an autograph, but he did much of it with a heavy heart following the death of former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant and eight others — including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna — in a helicopter crash last Sunday in California.
“It’s been a little unreal for me, it’s like I’m still waiting for them to call it fake news and that this is not real,” Horry said. “He was my friend, he was my teammate, and I’m sorry to see him go, but I’m more sorry to see those kids go because they were just starting their lives. It’s an overall tragic event and you hate it happened, but hopefully it’ll make people around the world understand that tomorrow’s not promised. … Blood is blood, family is family, appreciate it.”
The PGA Tour joined players with a 16th-hole tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, using his two Lakers uniform numbers to cut the final-round pin position on the stadium par 3. The pin was placed 24 yards from the front edge and 8 yards from the left edge, putting it in the back left corner of the green on the rowdy hole that holds more than 20,000 fans.
Third-round leader Tony Finau and fourth-ranked Justin Thomas have donned Bryant jerseys on the hole. Finau birdied it Friday and Saturday wearing a yellow No. 8 Lakers jersey. “I'm a huge Kobe fan, huge Lakers fan my whole life and, obviously, tragic news, but I think as we look forward we can honor what he's done," Finau said.
Bill Oram: Novak Djokovic pays tribute to Kobe Bryant after winning Australian Open: “This is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together more than ever. Be with our families, stay close to the people that love you, that care about you.”
Kyle Goon: LeBron said he thinks about his last phone call with Kobe probably at least once every day: "It’s amazing us to just be able to have a great conversation and talk about things. But for me to always think about it, it’s not a great memory because it was the last one."
The Lakers won’t get over their loss anytime soon, and they’ll be reminded regularly. They’re ready for that. “We can expect that probably for the rest of the year, some type of tribute or something honoring him,” Davis said. “Knowing that he’s with us, whether they don’t or whether they do. Knowing he’s with us as long as Laker Nation is alive.”
The score at halftime might have been mistaken for another tribute to Kobe Bryant: Lakers 81, Sacramento Kings 64. It didn’t occur to the Lakers until after the game when they looked at the box score. They couldn’t help but wonder about the cosmic connection to the man who once scored 81 points in a game for the Lakers. “I guess he’s with us,” Anthony Davis said. “Like our angel at all times, there with us,” Avery Bradley said.
Spectrum SportsNet: "It means everything to me, putting on this jersey, knowing that he put on this jersey for 20 years... It makes me want to go out there and play as hard as I can." @LakersReporter with Avery Bradley following tonight's win.
Vanessa Aurelia: Thank you @antdavis23 for letting me do this piece for you! It was an honor, and thanks for making my job easy , the hospitality and with the trust. 🏀 #RIPKobe #mambamentality #laker Photos by @jngvizuals
For Walton, who played 8½ seasons with Bryant in L.A., winning two championships -- and whose father, Bill Walton, played three seasons with Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, with the San Diego Clippers -- Bryant's death was deeply personal. Walton said he spent the past week tucking his 5-year-old son, Lawson, into bed by showing him highlight clips of his old teammate on the basketball court. "We pull up Kobe Bryant [videos]," he said. "Ten minutes of the top 10 plays here or top 100 here off of YouTube. We've had some fun doing that."
Walton's grieving process was intensified by the Kings' visit to Los Angeles earlier this week to play the Clippers. He said he couldn't help but think about Bryant and his family. "Emotions are everywhere," Walton said. "You walk through Staples Center and Vanessa and the girls used to sit outside our locker room every game, and you kind of pay your respects on the way by, and you forget about it, and then you walk by that spot, and you see them there [in your mind]. "And it's really hard. And it's something we're all fighting through, but I truly believe the best way to honor and continue healing is to compete and give everything you have to the game."
Bryant's retired No. 33 jersey was stolen in 2017 from Lower Merion High School's campus and eventually bought by a collector in China. Suspicious the jersey was stolen, the Kobe collector contacted the school and helped return the keepsake to suburban Philadelphia, a process already underway before Bryant was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash. The uniform was at last back Saturday where it belonged -- unveiled under a spotlight by Bryant's cousin, his old high school coach, and a former teammate at Bryant Gymnasium. "Good timing," Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer said. "That was kind of an iconic moment when the spotlight went on that jersey. It was just tremendous. It was major irony, almost, how we've been waiting for that jersey for a long time. For a long time we didn't know where it was. To have it back, it's a fitting ending to a tough week."
Mike Trudell: * @Kyle Kuzma postgame: “I probably cried so much that I don’t have any more tears left in me. I was just thinking about what (Kobe) stood for and what he meant to the game and tonight, I just tried to be fearless. Plain and simple. I just tried to play my heart out.”
September 19, 2021 | 5:06 pm EDT Update
Tommy Beer: Oh man… The French Prince Frank Ntilikina says goodbye to New York in a video posted to his Instagram page. getting dusty in here pic.twitter.com/8q8hi6LCsl
September 19, 2021 | 4:26 pm EDT Update
Keith Smith: Jarrell Brantley, who played for the Utah Jazz for the last two season, has signed with BC UNICS in Kazan, Russia. BC UNICS also signed former NBAer O.J. Mayo. Mayo last played in the NBA in in 2015-16 with the Milwaukee Bucks.
September 19, 2021 | 3:08 pm EDT Update
“I’m optimistic about our team,” added Ballmer. “I’m optimistic about our team success, and that optimism is a force multiplier. In many ways, the reason we did this is consistent with that optimism as a force multiplier approach.”
The Clippers owner also paid the town of Inglewood $66.2 million for the land where Intuit Dome will sit. The Clippers will get some of that back, though. Intuit, the software company that makes Turbo Tax, will pay the team more than $500 million for a 23-year naming rights slot. That deal only enhanced Ballmer’s optimism. “This stadium is about being optimistic about our team,” Ballmer said. “It’s about being optimistic about our fans. Get in the building, pump up, make energy,” Ballmer added, clapping his hands. “Your energy can feed our team to greater success.”
The Clippers estimate the Intuit Dome will generate roughly $260 million in annual economic activity for Inglewood, including over 7,000 full-time and part-time jobs. The Clippers also committed to a $100 million community benefits package. “It’s a big market,” Ballmer said. “There’s plenty of fans that can be fans of the Clippers and Lakers. But we want to tell you who we are. I think there are many folks in LA who identify with this notion of being the underdog, the person who strides. It’s almost two LA’s. It’s not all showtime and movie business. Our fans are grinders.”