The Clippers Mourn the Passing of Kobe Bryant
The Clippers defeated the Orlando Magic 112-97 on a day when basketball was the furthest thing from anyone's minds.
The NBA and the basketball community at large dealt with an unimaginable tragedy as they learned that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others passed away in a helicopter crash Sunday morning. The Clippers felt the pain of the loss on a human level and also deeper through their individual connections with Kobe.
Jerry West was general manager of the Lakers when Bryant was drafted and is widely credited with identifying his talent when others were wary of drafting a gangly teenager out of high school. West was in disbelief upon learning the news of a man who he considered a surrogate son.
Paul George grew up in Southern California as a Clipper fan, but also an enormous fan of Bryant. Even if he had been healthy to play against Orlando, it didn't seem like George was in the mindset to lace it up.
Kawhi Leonard did have to play, and he carried the memory of his friend and a man he admired by fighting for a win.
Lou Williams was Bryant's teammate during his final NBA season and remembered Bryant's generosity with the fans the most.
Assistant coach Ty Lue played with Bryant during his first three seasons in the league. The Lakers won two titles during Lue's time in Los Angeles, and Lue was instrumental in the second championship run.
Doc Rivers summed the team's feelings up best pregame when he said, "Sometimes things don't make sense."