Terrence Clarke’s tragic passing in a Thursday car accident in Los Angeles reverberated throughout the NBA, including at the United Center.
The former Kentucky guard, who declared for the NBA draft last month and just signed with an agency this week, was only 19.
Rookie forward Patrick Williams, who also is 19, left the bench and retreated to the players’ tunnel during the third quarter. That’s where several Bulls’ teammates and general manager Marc Eversley went to console Williams.
Williams later checked in at the 7:03 mark of the fourth quarter and played until Adam Mokoka replaced him with 1:24 remaining in the Bulls’ 108-91 victory over the Hornets. But Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Williams “was going through a personal issue” and the rookie wasn’t available for reporters postgame.
Williams appeared to comment on Clarke's passing on Instagram, writing, "hell nah, no way," under a post (published Wednesday) wherein Clarke announced his signing with Klutch Sports Group.
“Those guys were going back there checking on him,” Donovan said.
Coby White, 21, is in his second season and said he met Clarke once, shortly after the Bulls selected White with the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
“He came up to me. I knew who he was, just following. He was a top prospect and one of the best in his class,” White said of the Boston-area prospect. “He just came up to me and was like, ‘How’s the league, man? I’m going to get there one day. I’m going to be with you.’
“I could tell he was a humble dude. But he was hungry. He wanted to be in the league. I knew he had the talent. Everybody knew he had the talent. Everybody knew he had the work ethic to get there.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said his players knew Clarke because of his Boston ties and, despite beating the Suns Thursday night, added it’s “hard to talk about a basketball game.”
White concluded his remarks to reporters by saying Clarke’s tragic passing is why you always should tell those close to you that you love them.
“It’s sad, man. I just feel for his family,” White said. “I’m praying for his family and those close loved ones that he’s home to. It’s been a rough year -- still since last year. It’s just been rough.”