The NBA world is a very small world and it feels like it got a whole lot smaller over the last day and a half.
The shocking passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others on Sunday morning is still reverberating around the league.
Before tipoff, between the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves, center Karl-Anthony Towns took the microphone and addressed his home crowd.
“Yesterday, the NBA world lost one of the greatest players to ever play the game in Kobe Bean Bryant. All of us at the Timberwolves and obviously, the Sacramento Kings, our hearts and our condolences are with the families of everyone involved in the accident. Kobe was a trailblazer. He was someone that I looked up to my entire childhood, wanting to be like him, wanting to hit the last second shots like him and not only as a basketball player, but to see how he maturated as a father, I think all of us on this court really strive to be like that in our second careers. Thank you so much for being here with us in this time with all of us mourning as a brotherhood and I really appreciate everyone coming out everyone just wrap your hands and your arms around and pray for the family of Kobe and everyone involved.”
Following KAT’s address, the Timberwolves ran a tribute video on the main board, followed by a moment of silence for all nine individuals who lost their lives.
After winning the tip, the Timberwolves started the game with an eight-second violation in honor of Bryant’s No. 8. The Kings returned the favor moments later when they took a 24-second violation in honor Bryant’s second number, 24.
Head coach Luke Walton spent nine of his 10 seasons in the NBA playing alongside the 18-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers. They were more than friends, they were family, which an emotional Walton addressed earlier in the day following shootaround.
"It's hard to think about playing," Walton told media members. "But I also laugh thinking about what Kobe would say and it goes back to his mentality: 'So what, what's next?' No matter what he was looking down, no matter what the odds were against, he took on every single challenge -- he would want us out here playing."
Buddy Hield had the words, “Rest in Paradise #24” written across the side of his shoe. Hield grew up idolizing Bryant from the Bahamas and even wears No. 24 out of respect for the former Laker star. He is Kobe disciple that worked tirelessly to not only make it to the league, but succeed once he got there.
You could read, “RIP 8 4” on the sole and “24” on the toe of Bogdan Bogdnaovic’s shoe. On Sunday, Bogdanovic posted a Tweet that read, “I just lost my basketball father, there is no one that has impacted my game more than you Kobe... so sad and tragic. #restinpeace #8 #24”
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The Kings will play the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday in what will be the first game played at Staples Center since Bryant’s passing. The Clippers were supposed to play a game against the Lakers on Tuesday, but that game has been postponed until a later date.