The Wells Fargo Center had a somber tone Tuesday night before the 76ers and Golden State Warriors took the court to play their first game since the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of NBA icon Kobe Bryant and eight others.
Before the ceremony, the Sixers paid tribute by warming up in either jersey No. 8 or 24, with Bryant’s name on the back. Those are the two numbers he wore during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
During the ceremony, the names of the nine victims were displayed on the Jumbotron.
The victims were: Kobe Bryant, 41; Gianna Bryant, 13; John Altobelli, 56; Keri Altobelli, 46; Alyssa Altobelli, 13; Christina Mauser, 38; Ara Zobayan, 50; Sarah Chester, 45; and Payton Chester, 13.
Bryant’s framed No. 33 Lower Merion basketball jersey was brought to center court. There was one spotlight on the jersey and eight others in front, to signify all the victims.
Then there was a 33-second moment of silence, signifying his high school jersey number. A bell sounded nine times, once for each of the victims.
Part of the ceremony on the Jumbotron showed Bryant’s introduction for his last game in Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 2015.
The players from both teams came together at center court instead of standing across from one another for saxophonist Mike Phillips’ stirring rendition of the national anthem.
Afterward, there were a few shouts of “Kobe, Kobe," but the crowd was mostly quiet. Then the game began, with no pregame introductions of the players.
Sixers center Joel Embiid, who usually wears No. 21, wore No. 24 in honor of Bryant and drew cheers as he was spotlighted on the Jumbotron.
The Sixers began the game purposely having an 8-second violation. Golden State responded with a 24-second violation.