Everyone around the world is in shock with the tragic passing of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Last night, the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden honored Bryant in multiple ways.
The lights outside the Garden, that display the Knicks blue & orange colors on game night, were switched to Lakers purple & gold. Mike Breen and Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier remembered Bryant during the pre-game. There was a 24-second moment of silent before the beginning of the game. Along with both Bryant’s number 8 & 24 were displayed on the Garden floor.
Like most teams around the league, each team held onto the ball for their first possession, taking the 24-second shot clock violation. The Garden faithful, a lot supporting Bryant 8 & 24 jerseys, stood and applauded in honor of the late NBA legend. Chants of “Kobe, Kobe” rained down from the rafters. It was a emotional day around the entire league.
Bryant had an effect on the lives of so many current and former NBA players, coaches, executives and, of course, fans. Therefore, playing the games was somewhat of a head-scratching move. Breen and Frazier began the game with both the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets looking “uninterested and sluggish.” This was as expected with Bryant’s impact on the game.
Nets point guard, Kyrie Irving, was getting ready in the pre-game warm-ups when he got the devastating news. Irving sat out the game as his Nets lost to the Knicks 110-97.
While it was nice for the Knicks to get a victory over their rival, fans couldn’t help to think about all the memories Bryant gave the Garden crowd.
Bryant once had the most points scored in Madison Square Garden history with 61 points on February 2nd, 2009. That record is now broken by Carmelo Anthony’s 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats in 2014.
Like all other greats, Bryant always brought his A-game when he stepped foot in the Garden. The lights always seemed brighter and more stars came out when Kobe was in town. Bryant put on a show for the fans one way or another.
Whether you were a fan of Bryant or not, one has to respect his game. Bringing that ‘mamba mentality’ to every game is rare. Not many bring that mindset to each game on a consistent basis. His determination and drive to be the best is another reason why he was great.
Bryant meant so much to the game of basketball and even more to those outside the game. He was a larger than life icon that will be greatly missed.