Russell Westbrook, James Harden Attend Kobe Bryant Memorial in Los Angeles
Russell Westbrook and James Harden were among the numerous NBA luminaries to attend a memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in Los Angeles on Monday.
Rockets forward P.J. Tucker also attended the ceremony at Staples Center. All three players are expected to be on the floor in Houston on Monday as the Rockets host the Knicks at the Toyota Center, per the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen.
Michael Jordan was one of many speakers at Bryant's tribute on Monday. The six-time NBA champion discussed his nearly three-decade relationship with Bryant, tearing up during portions of his 10-minute speech.
"Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother," Jordan said.
Bryant and his daughter died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan. 26 along with seven other victims. The Rockets were the first team to play after Bryant’s crash, taking the floor in Denver just hours after the tragic accident. Tucker was among the Rockets to discuss Bryant’s life and legacy after Houston faced the Nuggets.
“Trying to play today was tough. Kobe meant so much to the game,” Tucker told the media on Jan. 26. “Some of our conversations I'll remember for the rest of my life. He helped me so much.”
Westbrook and Harden both shared a special bond with Bryant. The pair of California natives played on the 2012 Olympic team with Bryant, and Bryant had previously praised both Harden and Westbrook during their respective tenures in Oklahoma City and Houston.
Bryant squared off against the Rockets 61 times in his 20-year career. He averaged 26.6 points per game against Houston, the fourth-highest mark against league's other 29 teams aside from the Lakers.
The Rockets return home on Monday night after winning seven of their last nine games. They sit No. 4 in the Western Conference at 36–20, tied with the Jazz. Houston holds the tiebreaker over Utah after a 120-110 win on Saturday night.
Tip off from the Toyota Center in Houston on Monday is slated for 7 p.m. CT.