Honouring Kobe Bryant: Fans, players pay tribute on and off the court

After a moment of silence during Sunday’s NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs, both teams took a 24 second violation as a tribute to NBA player Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash that afternoon.

It’s been just a few days since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others passengers died in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles, but the world of basketball hasn’t stopped mourning.

The tragic death of the 41-year-old NBA superstar continues to be a shock for players, family members and fans worldwide. But for some, this mourning period has also created a sense of community, especially for players in the NBA.

Bryant’s former teammates and friends, including former NBA player Dwyane Wade and Shaq, both posted heartwarming tributes for their lost friend on Sunday.

READ MORE: ‘I love you big bro’: LeBron James vows to continue Kobe Bryant legacy 

But the world also anticipated how players, many of them who are young and idolized Bryant, would react. Many players posted their condolences on social media, but the court was a different atmosphere.

Below, we take a look at some of the biggest tributes to Bryant on and off the court.

Players on the court celebrate the life of Kobe

On Sunday, just hours after learning the news of Bryant’s death, the Toronto Raptors the San Antonio Spurs had a scheduled game.

While there were rumours online the league would cancel day-of games, all eight scheduled games went ahead as planned.

READ MORE: ‘I’m sick right now:’ Shaq posts heartbreaking tribute for Kobe Bryant

In San Antonio, the Spurs and Raptors both took a 24 second violation as a tribute to Bryant, who wore the number 24 at the end of this career.

During the Huston Rockets and Denver Nuggets Game in Denver, Colo., on Sunday, the arena held a moment of silence for Bryant as players stood on the court.

Players for the Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando Magic also took a 24 second violation, followed by an eight second violation — Kobe wore the number 8 before 24.

On Monday, players for the Detroit Pistons honoured Bryant by wearing 8 and 24 jerseys before the game in Detroit.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Other athletes, both in and outside of basketball, paid their respects for Bryant and his daughter by personalizing their own shoes.

The NBA postpones Lakers and Clippers game

On Sunday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement about the death of Bryant and his daughter.

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” he said.

“He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.”

READ MORE: Gianna (Gigi) Bryant: The 13-year-old loved basketball as much as her dad

Silver said he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball.

“He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.”

On Monday, the league announced Tuesday’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers game would be postponed until further notice. 

“The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday,” the league said in a statement.

Dallas Mavericks retire number 24

On Sunday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced the organization would officially retire the number 24.

“We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father,” Cuban said in a statement.

“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick.


Norman Powell, #24 of the Toronto Raptors. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Several players in the NBA have worn the number 24 and currently, so does Toronto Raptor Norman Powell.

For years, the 26-year-old idolized Bryant.

“He meant everything. I model the whole mentality of being an ultimate competitor, grinding, working day in and day out, sacrificing a lot of things to get to where you want to be. I try to implement that in my game,” he said after Sunday’s game against the Spurs.

When asked about changing jersey numbers, Powell said he would do it in a heartbeat.

“The reason why I wear 24 is because of Kobe. So, whatever it takes to honour him,” he said.

“If they want to retire 24, I’ll find a new number. Go to 8, go to something, but find a way to relate back to Kobe somehow, someway.”

Canadian teen demands logo change

A teen in British Columbia created an online petition following Bryant’s death urging the NBA to change its logo to a silhouette of the player.

As of Tuesday, the petition on Change.org had more than 1.9 million signatures. Nikyar Moghtader, 16, told Global News the petition quickly went viral. 

READ MORE: Who is Vanessa Bryant? A timeline of her relationship with Kobe

“He was an inspiration and role model to countless fans including myself and he deserves to be commemorated as one of the greatest of all time,” he said.

Fans relive Kobe’s final game

On Monday, ESPN announced it would re-air the final game of Bryant’s NBA career.

“In his final game at Staples Center on April 13, 2016, against the Utah Jazz, Bryant’s memorable performance led to a 60-point game,” the broadcast said. 


Photo: Getty Images

Bryant led his team to a 101-96 win, CNN reported.

“I can’t believe how fast 20 years went by,” Bryant told fans in the arena in 2016. “You can’t write something better than this.”

Fans hold vigils, make art all over the world

In a tragedy like this one, it’s no surprise fans all around the world are paying their respects. From memorials to vigils to artwork, many people are expressing their love for their favourite basketball player.

READ MORE: Dwyane Wade cries over the loss of friend Kobe Bryant: ‘It’s a nightmare’

In Los Angeles, outside the Staples Center, makeshift memorials have been spreading throughout the area since Sunday, with fans placing candles, flower and basketballs throughout.


Photo: Getty Images

Some fans even left their jerseys behind.

Tributes were also seen on social media.

From murals to chalk art to larger-than-life-size paintings, fans around the world continue to react to the news.

In the Philippines, some fans designed a giant tribute to Bryant and Gigi.

Tributes were seen in Toronto, New York and other cities around the world.

 

 

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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