Kobe never let the shot clock run out, though
Sunday’s slate of NBA games was one of the most surreal in the history of the league. Players had only hours to attempt to process the news of Kobe Bryant’s sudden death before taking the court, many of them with tears in their eyes.
It’s nearly impossible to strike a balance between honoring one of the five best players in the history of the sport and letting the games go on as scheduled. Kobe’s death hung like the most massive of clouds over all eight arenas where NBA games were played. Failing to acknowledge it, even in some small way, was simply not an option for the players, which is why many teams decided to open their games by letting the 24-second clock hit zero.
The Spurs and Raptors, who played the second game of the day, first had the idea. The fans were confused at first but soon rose to their feet when they realized what was happening.
The Celtics and Pelicans started their game in New Orleans in the same fashion.
The Knicks and the Nets followed suit at the building where Kobe had his famous 61-point game.
The Grizzlies-Suns game and the Hawks-Wizards game found another way to pay tribute to the fallen legend. Instead of taking a pair of 24-second violations, the Suns and Hawks took 8-second backcourt violations in honor of the number Kobe wore for his first 10 years in the NBA.
While watching those videos, you can’t help but wonder what Kobe himself would be thinking about that sort of tribute. He’s probably somewhere saying, “Come on, shoot it!” He would never leave potential buckets on the court like that.
There’s no other way to do this
It’s difficult to imagine how many events could bring the sports world to a complete halt like Kobe’s death. At one point, all of America’s top 25 trending topics on Twitter were related to Kobe and his family. It was striking to see how deeply his passing was felt, inside and outside the world of sports. He was such a larger than life figure, and his passing was so unexpected that it seemed like the world stop spinning when the news broke.
It became clear to me pretty quickly that I had no choice but to eschew the normal format of this column and make it all about Kobe. It’s all that’s on anyone’s mind, myself included.
The best Kobe remembrances
Tremendous NJ.com column Steve Politi wrote about how the loss of Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna makes this situation even more sad. ... Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke’s Kobe reaction did a great job capturing the sheer disbelief everyone felt. ... Kobe’s death is a tragedy on many levels, Michael Rosenberg writes. ... Slate’s Nick Greene argues that there will never be a basketball player like Kobe again. ... Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce’s Kobe remembrance is short but profound. ... ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan wrote with a lovely personal touch.
Mike Breen makes a good point
As Breen points out here, it’s worth asking why Sunday's slate of NBA games was played. Many players were seen openly weeping before tipoff. Kyrie Irving left Madison Square Garden after the news broke and did not play against the Knicks. Most locker rooms across the league were closed to the press to allow players at least one space where they could grieve privately. Every player in the NBA either played against him or grew up idolizing him. I doubt anyone was in the proper headspace to play a professional basketball game just hours after the shocking news, so why bother?
Just hours earlier
Tough to watch
Difficult scene at the first NBA game of the day
This feels a little invasive
Raw emotion from Dwyane Wade
The Garden lit up in purple and gold
Huge crowd outside Staples during the Grammys
Great perspective from Jay Williams
The scene at the Pro Bowl
From October 2018
I thought they handled this very well
Lamar Jackson’s reaction
Michigan State’s Cassius Winston was in disbelief
Pretty wild coincidence
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