Good morning, folks. For the rest of the NBA season, we’ll be honoring the great Kobe Bryant at the beginning of every BBNBA post. Let’s talk NBA.
“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” – Kobe
It still doesn’t seem real. The untimely death of iconic figures never does; Michael Jackson, Prince, Mac Miller, etc.
Miller’s passing struck me in a way that no celebrity death ever has. His music had been a catalyst for me growing up throughout high school, into my college days, and even after I graduated. It was more than just his ability to flow over any beat or create music that made me think introspectively, but it was about the similar impact he had on millions of other people. I wasn’t the only one sharing private emotions that day. Miller was young, too, just 26 years old. Way too young to meet the fate he did.
And still, Kobe is different. Kobe was a larger than life icon – someone that was above the idea of death. He was an international star with just as many haters as he had supporters. He made poor decisions in his past and those can’t be ignored. But neither can his greatness. Or his determination to be great. Competitors like Kobe come along maybe once every decade. He left a mark on the NBA that only a handful of people in history can claim. In the year 2020, when you think about the NBA, the first three names that come to mind are Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. It doesn’t matter if its a rookie or a 15-year veteran, every player in the Association has some sort of connection to Kobe. Some modeled their entire game after him (DeMar DeRozan, Jayson Tatum, among plenty of others). Others were incredibly close friends (Kyrie Irving). This wasn’t just the loss of a basketball player. It was the loss of a father, a husband, a friend, and a champion.
It hasn’t even been 24 hours since the news broke. I was in my car, getting ready to head to the gym and – of course – play some basketball. The tweets read like a bad dream. I sat stunned for about 10 minutes. Growing up, I was a LeBron James fan no matter what. The thought of Kobe winning turned my stomach inside out. I wanted nothing more than for him to lose. In a weird way, my passion for the sport that I love spawned out of a mutual hatred for Kobe and a love for LeBron. I’ve drastically changed how I follow sports as a fan since then, but those memories still flood my brain. Kobe’s 60-point game against the Utah Jazz to finish his career was the ultimate staple of a legendary adventure. It was perfectly Kobe in every way. As someone who loathed the man as a child, I cheered harder than I have for any other person during that game. I wouldn’t be able to have the opportunity to write this post if it wasn’t for the effects that Kobe had on me as a boy growing up obsessed with hoops.
I don’t know how any of these men were able to take the floor on Sunday following the news, but much like Kobe would have wanted, they remained strong and played in his honor. There were eight games on Sunday with plenty of moments of silence. The death was still fresh and raw emotions were put on live display.
Booker posts 36 against Grizzlies
Both the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies paid tribute to Kobe in the opening moments of the game, just a few hours after the heartbreaking news was announced. The Grizz took a 24-second shot clock violation on the first possession and the Suns followed it up with an eight-second backcourt violation. 24 and 8 were Kobe’s jersey numbers during his illustrious careers.
Chants of “Kobe, Kobe” rung throughout the arena.
Devin Booker went off for 36 points in the Suns 114-109 loss to the Grizzlies. The former ‘Cat shot 11-24 from the floor and 5-11 from deep while adding two rebounds and five assists to his total. Dropping 36 was the perfect way for Booker to honor Kobe. When you watch Booker’s game, it’s undeniable to see where a lot of his offensive influence came from. Kobe was Booker’s basketball idol. He has Kobe written all over his jump shot. The intense moment got to Booker.
A powerful moment in honor of Kobe.
After the Grizzlies took a 24-second violation to begin the game, the Suns took an 8-second violation. Devin Booker was moved to tears. pic.twitter.com/YikW0sY4rr
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 26, 2020
This is sad man.. Book’s face says it all
Kobe Bryant was Devin Booker’s basketball idol growing up. Book warming up getting ready for tonight’s game you can see a certain look on his face. I feel like something special is coming for Devin tonight.
REST IN PEACE KOBE ?? pic.twitter.com/HngW5Lb0Pz
— Brandon Awadis (@brawadis) January 26, 2020
If you’re looking for something that might make you cry a little bit harder, check out what Booker and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (also a massive Kobe supporter who was seen in tears before his game on Sunday) combined to record.
45 points on 24 shots
36 points on 24 shots
— ???? ? (@PhillyWRLD) January 27, 2020
Young also shot 81 percent from the free-throw line (13-16). Sometimes, you just can’t make up these kinds of things.
Randle’s double-double leads Knicks to win
Julius Randle is another former Wildcat with strong connections to Kobe. Not only did he idolize Kobe growing up, but he got to play alongside him for a couple of seasons during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. Randle went out and dropped 22 points to go with 15 rebounds as the Knicks beat the Brooklyn Nets 110-97. More chants of “Kobe, Kobe” vibrated inside Madison Square Garden.
— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) January 27, 2020
Knicks Marcus Morris and Julius Randle each had messages for Kobe Bryant on their shoes. Randle was a former Lakers teammate of Bryant's for two seasons. His shoes read: "GOAT 24 Rest Easy Bro" pic.twitter.com/AZDtTtU817
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) January 26, 2020
Kyrie Irving did not play for the Nets. A close personal friend of Kobe, he sat out due to personal reasons.
Check out the full stat sheet below.
|Devin Booker (PHX)||109-114 L @ MEM||36||11-24 (5-11)||2||5||0||1||4||-2||39|
|Julius Randle (NYK)||110-97 W vs. BKN||22||10-22 (0-3)||15||1||0||1||6||-3||33|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||112-97 W @ ORL||10||2-4 (2-3)||4||1||0||0||2||+22||21|
|Kevin Knox (NYK)||110-97 W vs. BKN||4||1-2 (1-2)||0||3||0||0||0||+2||14|
|Trey Lyles (SAS)||106-110 L vs. TOR||0||0-2 (0-1)||0||0||0||0||0||-6||5|
|Darius Miller (NOP)||123-108 W vs. BOS||DNP-Achilles||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||117-110 W vs. HOU||DNP-Ankle||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||117-110 W vs. HOU||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Wenyen Gabriel (POR)||139-129 W vs. IND||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|John Wall (WAS)||133-152 L @ ATL||DNP-Foot||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Enes Kanter (BOS)||108-123 L @ NOP||DNP-Hip||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Keldon Johnson (SAS)||106-110 L vs. TOR||DNP-Inactive||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Skal Labissiere (POR)||139-129 W vs. IND||DNP-Knee||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
7:00: Cavaliers (Knight-out) @ Pistons
7:30: Magic @ Heat (Adebayo, Herro)
8:00: Spurs (Johnson, Lyles) @ Bulls
8:00: Kings (Fox) @ Timberwolves (Towns)
8:00: Mavericks @ Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Noel-out)
9:00 (NBATV): Rockets @ Jazz