It has been nearly a week since the world was rocked by the news that LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had been tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Sadly, the pain felt by his fans and loved ones only continued to grow, as it was later revealed that a total of nine lives were lost in the crash, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Last night, the LA Lakers returned to action at the Staples Center in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers - but I think it's safe to say nobody's mind was focus on the action on the court. Last night's game was like any other...
At courtside, red roses adorned the seats of the last Lakers game Kobe and daughter Gianna attended together. They were also dressed with Kobe's number 24 Lakers jersey and Gianna's number 2 Mamba jersey.
Sharing the touching tribute on Instagram, Vanessa Bryant wrote: "There is no #24 without #2. #GirlDaddy #DaddysGirl #MyBabies #OurAngels #KobeandGigi"
Photographs of all nine crash victims were alternated on the overhead video board.
Per The Guardian, the hours leading up to the game were mostly silent in the arena. The "electric atmosphere" that often floods the court prior to NBA games was "nowhere to be felt".
The media talked quietly, the usual music didn't play, and ushers took their positions with black ribbons tied to their work uniforms. The arena staff were even provided with grief counseling if they needed it.Lebron James gave a touching speech prior to last night's game - watch it below:
Inside the Lakers' locker room, no players reportedly spoke before the game. Coach Frank Vogel said of Lebron James: "He’s been really a tower of strength for all of us. We’re following his lead."
Bryant's number 24 gold jersey was hung on a wooden hanger from a fire alarm next to LeBron James’ locker.
As the fans arrived, music started to play, and they were greeted with gold no. 24 t-shirt awaiting them at their seats.
Prior to the game, Lebron James gave an incredible speech to honor his late friend and teammate, as well as the other eight victims. An emotional tribute to Bryant was then played to the crowd, and later shared by the official LA Lakers Twitter page.
Last night was a game I'm sure nobody will forget...