Sunday, no sphere could have possibly felt the impact of Kobe Bryant’s death greater than the NBA and the teams that were tasked with taking to the hardwood shortly after news broke of Kobe Bryant’s death.
While total cancellation of the league’s Sunday’s matches seemed to be in the top requests of fans, such an outcome couldn’t have been feasible. In response, however, teams across the league opted to honor the Black Mamba by holding 24-second and 8-second violations in honor of Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jersey numbers. Naturally, crowds gathered across the arenas caught onto the trend, gifting Kobe with a standing ovation every time.
“Everybody is pretty emotional about the tragedy with Kobe,” coach Gregg Popovich said in San Antonio where the Spurs hosted the TornotoRaptors. “All of us know what a great player he was, but he went beyond great playing. He was a competitor — that goes unmatched. It’s what made him as a player so attractive to everybody — that focus, that competitiveness, that will to win. And even more importantly than that, we all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us in so many ways, and so many millions of people loved him for so many different reasons. It’s just a tragic thing.”
In Atlanta, the Hawks boasted a quick turnaround when guard Trae Young debuted din a No. 8 jersey, kneeling at the foul line to let the clock count down after tip-off before switching to his usual No. 11.