How the Philadelphia 76ers Honored Kobe Bryant on Tuesday
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, Ben Franklin Bridge, buildings in center city, and last but not least -- the Wells Fargo Center. Those are some of the key areas that were all lit up in purple on Tuesday night to honor the passing of NBA legend, Kobe Bryant.
While it was going to be tough for the Philadelphia 76ers to take the floor so quickly after such a tragic loss in the league, many believed that the late legend would want everybody to perform at their highest level for him, considering he was the ultimate competitor.
Still, the Sixers couldn't go into Tuesday night's matchup without creating some sort of tribute. So as a collective, the Golden State Warriors and the 76ers brainstormed ways they could honor not just Kobe Bryant, but the others who were on the helicopter as well.
Hours before the pregame ceremony, a few things stood out. One, the Sixers had a maroon No. 33 decal on the court. It represented Kobe Bryant's high school number from when he played at Lower Merion High School, which is about 30 minutes away from the Wells Fargo Center.
And two, many players had personal tributes of some sort on their sneakers. Players such as Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, and more decided to write Kobe Bryant and his daughter's name, in addition to both of Bryant's NBA numbers as well. By the time the team came out for the official shootaround moments before tip-off, each and every player had on a Sixers jersey, which was numbered eight or twenty-four, with 'Bryant' on the back.
After the shootaround, it was time for the tribute. The jumbotron at the arena flashed multiple pictures of Kobe Bryant as the in-house announcer Matt Cord read off a tribute to the late legend. However, he didn't leave out the others either. Eventually, every victim's name was displayed for all to see, and nine beams were shining down on the court to honor their lives.
There was a thirty-three second moment of silence, and eventually, both teams joined together as the national anthem was performed. Typically, the music would start blasting, and both teams would get their starting lineups introduced -- but that didn't happen.
Instead, there was a spotlight that shined over the Liberty Bell replica, with a framed No. 33 Lower Merion High School jersey next to it. Usually, the Sixers have an honorary bell-ringer to hit the bell with a hammer three times. On Tuesday, though, nobody could take that spot. Therefore, a bell sound went off nine times for each life.
Eventually, the court cleared up, and the lights came back on. At that point, it was still incredibly silent in the arena. No music, no cheering. . . Nothing. The tip-off happened, and the Sixers held onto the ball to take an eight-second violation. Then, the Warriors did the same with the 24-second violation. At that point, the crowd got back in it by shouting "KOBE" out loud as the game resumed.
The players and the coaches admittedly had a hard time getting into the game at first. As the entire moment was extremely emotional, it was tough for everybody to wrap their heads around the reality of what has taken place recently. All in all, though, both organizations involved seemed very satisfied with the memorial that took place. Now that the tributes are in the past, players and coaches can begin moving on without a constant reminder of what happened.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_