In the aftermath of the heartbreaking helicopter crash that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, NBA teams across the league have taken to the court to pay tribute to the Black Mamba. This included 24-second moments of silence before each game, and teams intentionally running out the 24-second shot clock or 8-second backcourt violations, in honor of Bryant’ jersey numbers.
On Monday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves honored Kobe by placing the basketball on the free throw line in the same spot where the Laker legend surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time list back in 2014.
The Sacramento Kings reciprocated Minnesota’s violation by running out the 24-second shot clock before the game really got underway. And the game itself turned out to be a thriller.
Trailing by 17 points with under three minutes to play, the Kings went on an unprecedented run that brought them to within two in the final seconds. That’s when De’Aaron Fox delivered a missed free throw for the ages and corralled the rebound to send the game into overtime. Sacramento went on to win by the final of 133-129.
Buddy Hield, who led all scorers with a career-high 42 points, reflected on his childhood idol after the come from behind victory.
“That’s the reason I wanted to play in the NBA because of Kobe,” Hield said. “I feel that he was with me. He never gives up. That’s always his mentality. Never give up. No matter what the stakes was, he was always pushing, always pressing. He’s making sure guys feel him. That’s what I did tonight.”