Joel Embiid on Tuesday night played while wearing the No. 24 on his jersey instead of his customary 21.
His 76ers teammates wore one of two numbers during pregame warmups. Some wore 24, others wore 8.
The Warriors, every last one of them, wore black. The weight of the moment was etched on the face of rookie guard Jordan Poole.
This was the power and influence of Kobe Bryant, whose death on Sunday is being absorbed ever so slowly by the NBA fraternity and many outside the sport.
Temporarily defying the rules and purpose of competition, the Warriors and 76ers began the game in Philadelphia -- where Kobe was born and attended high school -- by allowing themselves to reflect on something bigger than basketball.
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They spent the first 35 seconds of the game focused solely on Kobe’s life and death. Embiid won the opening tip, directing the ball to Ben Simmons, who promptly placed it on the floor, where it sat for the next eight seconds. The crowd inside Wells Fargo Arena stood and cheered, after which an eight-second backcourt violation was assessed, the turnover giving the ball to the Warriors.
D’Angelo Russell inbounded to Draymond Green, who followed Simmons’ example by placing the ball on the floor. The Warriors took a 24-second possession violation, giving the ball back to the Sixers.
The first dribble was not taken until 11: 25 remained in the first quarter, the first shot coming 22 seconds later.
This all came after a pregame ceremony to honor Bryant. His Lower Merion High School No. 33 jersey, white with maroon trim, was spotlighted, along with eight more spotlights signifying the other victims that perished in the helicopter crash Sunday in Southern California. The names of all nine, including Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were in lights on the message board.
It was another example of the vibe permeating the NBA since the tragedy.