The NBA world was sent into shock on Sunday afternoon when news of the sudden and tragic death of legendary player Kobe Bryant in a helicopter accident was reported and confirmed.
Sunday’s game between the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs went on as scheduled despite the league-wide mourning, and the players involved found a way to honor the memory of Bryant after the opening tip.
Following a moment of silence from the arena presentation, players from both teams stood still and allowed the 24-second shot clock expire on their opening possessions after the tip-off, a nod to Bryant’s number 24 jersey.
Remarkable moment to start the Raptors-Spurs game. pic.twitter.com/thmt9ZU1Ra
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 26, 2020
The somber mood of the opening possessions likely reflected those of the players involved, many of whom shared personal connections to Bryant, as he served for 20 years as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers and basketball in California.
Spurs star and Compton, California native DeMar DeRozan has signature sneakers as part of Bryant’s Nike shoe line. Likewise, Raptors guard and San Diego California native Norm Powell is also famously influenced by Kobe, donning Bryant’s signature number 24 on his jersey.
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