In the first game to start since news surfaced of Kobe Bryant’s death, the Raptors and Spurs memorialized the NBA superstar and legendary Lower Merion graduate by letting the 24-second shot-clock run out on the first possession of the game.
According to the broadcast, the two teams agreed before the tip-off that they would let the shot clock run out to commemorate Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was reportedly killed in the crash as well.
Before the tip-off, the AT&T Center had a moment of silence for Bryant.
The Spurs had many battles with Bryant and the Lakers, especially in the postseason. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has spoken openly about his love for and respect of Bryant, and that admiration was apparent when the team played a tribute video during the Lakers legend’s final appearance in San Antonio.
“An assassin in the best sense of that word,” Spurs legend David Robinson said. “Someone you knew was going to get the job done. You felt like it was almost inevitable if you’re playing against him. You cannot let him get that shot. Just the work ethic and the intensity, everything you bring to a game, everything that elevates this game to what we (want, he had).”
San Antonio held a moment of silence before the game. Spurs assistant coaches Becky Hammon and Tim Duncan and guard Lonnie Walker IV were visibly upset. Hammon and Walker wiped away tears and Duncan had his hands over his face.
Then came the memorable in-game tribute.