The Boston Celtics arrived at Staples Center on Sunday for a battle with the Los Angeles Lakers. The rivalry between these two teams is fierce, but players on the east coast team still wanted to show respect for the late Kobe Bryant. Several members of the Celtics roster warmed up while wearing purple armbands.
Celtics players pay homage to Kobe with special forearm bands 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/FOLdvqQ70T— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 23, 2020
As various photos showed, some of the players had armbands with No. 24 while others had No. 8. All of these armbands were Lakers purple and were used to pay tribute to Bryant following his death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
The players didn't simply wear these armbands during the warmups. Many also kept the Bryant tributes as the game progressed. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Brad Wanamaker all kept the purple armbands on while trying to help the Celtics secure a victory on the west coast.
"Nba really is a big family, rivalries aside. Love this sport!" one fan commented on Twitter. They loved that the Celtics were still trying to show respect for Bryant despite being part of a massive rivalry. Although the fans were still hoping that the Lakers would destroy their opponent and move to 43 wins on the season.
In the opinion of some fans, the Celtics wearing Bryant-inspired armbands was just further evidence that the rivalries in the league aren't built on disdain for the other team. There is actually an immense amount of respect at the heart of these rivalries. This respect was evident on Sunday afternoon prior to the rivalry game.
Another example of the respect between the two teams was put on display by Hall of Famer Bill Russell. The former Celtics star showed up to Staples Center to support the team with which he won 11 championships. However, Russell wasn't wearing green. He showed up in a No. 24 Bryant jersey.
Russell and Bryant played in two different generations, but the pair had immense respect for each other throughout the Lakers star's life. Russell even said that he was Bryant's biggest fan in a tweet following the helicopter crash on Jan. 26. He also said that no one in the NBA could outwork Bryant. Outplaying him was a possibility, but outworking was out of the question.
(Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)