The Toronto Raptors and Spurs let the shot clock run out at the start of their game in San Antonio to honor Los Angeles Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant. On Sunday, Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant. The two were headed to a basketball game at the Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks.
Remarkable moment to start the Raptors-Spurs game. pic.twitter.com/thmt9ZU1Ra— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 26, 2020
Footage from the start of the Raptors and Spurs game show the Raptors winning the tip-off, but declining to rush towards the basket. Players from both teams merely walked to one side of the court and let the shot clock run out. The crowd roared with applause once they realized what the players were doing.
The Athletic's Blake Murphy tweeted the Spurs did the same thing on their first possession. Murphy reported there was also a moment of silence before the game began, and Bryant's face was shown on the jumbotron.
The Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets game also began at the same time as the Spurs and Raptors. The Nuggets paid tribute to Bryant with a moment of silence before the game as well.
Bryant is considered one of the greatest players of his generation and hugely influential among today's NBA stars. After hearing the news, several took to Twitter to share their condolences and heartbreak.
"Man I don't even know where to start," 76ers star Joel Embiid tweeted. "I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!!"
Grizzlies player Jae Crowder tweeted a picture of himself hugging Bryant.
"THE DAY I EARNED YOUR RESPECT WAS A DAY ILL NEVER FORGET.! REST PEACEFULLY GOAT.!" Crowder added.0comments
"There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my [niece] Gigi & my brother [Kobe] I love u and u will be missed," Shaquille O'Neal, who won three NBA championships with Bryant, tweeted. "My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW."
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