Kobe Bryant was everywhere during last weekend’s NBA All-Star game

Highlights from All-Star weekend included a controversial dunk contest (you got hosed, Aaron Gordon), a light celebrity game (do better, NBA) and a big man winning the skills competition (how about Bam Adebayo?). On Sunday, with new rules making the game more competitive, Team LeBron edged Team Giannis on an Anthony Davis free throw.

But this weekend … this weekend was all about Kobe Bryant.

It’s hard to believe it’s been three weeks since Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident. The crash took the life of Bryant’s 13-year old daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, and sent a shockwave throughout the NBA. In the immediate aftermath, there were powerful reactions. At the NBA’s marquee event, there were more.

On Saturday, Adam Silver delivered his midseason state of the NBA address. He talked about David Stern, the former NBA commissioner who succumbed to a brain hemorrhage on New Year’s Day. And then he turned to Kobe. He linked Bryant and Stern, calling both “determined to win … difficult at times … [and] two people who didn’t have time for the niceties around personal relationships because it was about winning.” He recalled the phone call from Mike Bass, the NBA’s communications chief, his voice choking up on the phone as he informed Silver of the crash. He recounted an emotional conversation he had with Chris Paul, the NBAPA President and Bryant’s close friend, during which both struggled to find words.

“Kobe, in his post-playing career, we got to be particularly close,” Silver said. “His loss, together with his daughter and those other seven people, is unspeakable.”

LeBron James, understandably, was a lightning rod for Bryant-related questions. The relationship between James and Bryant was cordial during Bryant’s playing days, but had started to evolve during James’s first year with the Lakers. James spoke powerfully about Bryant before the Lakers’ first game since his passing. He had little interest in offering anything more this weekend.

“We know that he’s watching over us,” James said. “It’s our responsibility to just represent the purple and gold not only for him but for all the greats, everybody that’s ever come through the Lake Show. I really don’t want to sit up here and talk about it too much. It’s a very, very sensitive subject, but he’s with us every day.”

On another dais, Giannis Antetokounmpo held court. Make a list of NBA players most influential in the global growth of the game, and Bryant is on it. The Dream Team introduced the NBA to the world in 1992. The player who drew those early eyeballs was Bryant, a teenage sensation in the 1990s, an NBA champion and MVP in the early 2000s. Among them was Antetokounmpo, a skinny Greek kid with Bryant-like dreams. Antetokounmpo called Bryant “my idol” and the “Michael Jordan of our generation.” He said Bryant mentored him these last few years, willingly sharing his institutional knowledge.

“A lot of people when they’re so great, they don’t do that,” Antetokounmpo said. “There was a quote that said that talent is worthless if you’re not willing to share it, right? And he was one of those guys that was sharing his talent with us.”

Everywhere players were asked about Kobe. Paul said Bryant’s death still didn’t feel real. Kemba Walker said Bryant was the reason he was such a hard worker. Anthony Davis recounted how Bryant called him after Davis was named Bryant’s All-Star injury replacement, in 2014. Bryant’s message: Go out there and make me look good.

The All-Star game itself was a tribute to Bryant. Inside Team LeBron’s locker room, Frank Vogel, the Lakers coach who spent several days as the face of a grieving franchise, finished his pregame speech with a 1-2-3, Mamba. Team LeBron wore No. 2, for Gianna; Team Giannis were all clad in No. 24. Magic Johnson eulogized Bryant before calling for an eight-second moment of silence. Jennifer Hudson, clad in Lakers purple, sang a stirring rendition of “For All We Know (We May Meet Again)” with images of Bryant flashing behind her. Grammy-winning hip hop star Common ended a Bryant rap with “Even in the darkest times, you’ll feel Kobe’s light.”

It was fitting then that Bryant’s legacy was honored at one of the most competitive All-Star games ever. The NBA took some flak for overhauling the rules, which included quarter-by-quarter scoring and an untimed finish. But it couldn’t have worked out better. Teams scrapped at the end of quarters. Coaches burned timeouts. The final 12 minutes had a playoff feel. Joel Embiid battled in the post. Kyle Lowry attempted to take a charge against James … and then took two against Kawhi Leonard and James Harden, respectively.

Coaches issued challenges.

The referees came this close to handing out technical fouls.

“You could definitely feel [Bryant’s] presence,” said James.

When it was over, Leonard held the MVP trophy. The Kobe Bryant MVP Award, which the NBA announced it would be renamed to over the weekend. Indeed, while the wound Bryant’s death will scar over, it will never be forgotten. Bryant’s legacy will live with a generation of players, maybe more. His name will be inscribed on the All-Star trophy for decades to come.

Facing the media a final time on Sunday, James acknowledged the magnitude of the moment. When a reporter accidentally addressed him as Kobe, James said “I don’t mind being Kobe this weekend.” And when a reporter asked about all the tributes to Bryant, James declared anything else to be “uncivilized.”

“He’s one of the greatest basketball players, one of the most impactful players, and the inspiration that he has, it’s showing,” James said.

“How many people not only in the basketball world, but also outside the basketball world, [were] touched by a person such as himself. Obviously, we all saw what he was able to do on the floor as a competitor, as a champion, someone who strived for excellence every single day, but we also saw the father he was as well to his beautiful daughters and to his wife. The things that he was doing, winning an Oscar, just doing so many things that people would aspire to do, and gaining inspiration from him because of his drive.”

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna buried in a private ceremony

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna have been laid to eternal rest. Both were buried in a private ceremony on 7 February. Multiple reports confirm the event was held in Corona Del Mar, California.

According to ET, a close relative of Bryant’s widow said the secret burial arrangement was for “good reasons.”

‘Vanessa Bryant and the family needed a private service to properly mourn their loved ones,’ the source said ‘It was a hard decision. The ceremony was extremely painful and still hard to grasp that such two beautiful souls are gone forever.’

Extra TV said the funeral was held at the Pacific View Mortuary in California.

A public memorial service has been scheduled for 24 February at Staples Center, which is also home to Los Angeles Lakers.

The chosen date for Bryant’s memorial is symbolic; in his later years as a Lakers player, the basketball icon wore jersey No. 24 whereas his daughter Gianna was always excited with her No. 2.

Vanessa confirmed the public memorial on Instagram with the caption “#2, #24, #20 years as a Laker and the amount of years Kob and I were together.” She added four heart emojis to the words.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8Rk8gHDUq7/?utm_source=ig_embed

Kobe and his daughter were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26. They were going for her basketball practice. Gianna had dreams of playing in the WNBA and touching lives like the NBA champion.

Nike losing millions to honour Kobe Bryant

Nike on Monday suspended the sale of Kobe Bryant merchandise on its online store, multiple outlets reported.

According to ESPN, a search for Kobe Bryant on the site takes a user instead to a page with a purple and gold Nike gift card sporting the Los Angeles Lakers logo.

A search of the site for “Kobe Bryant” and related terms later Monday night resulted in a page with the statement Nike issued Sunday upon learning of Bryant’s death.

“Along with millions of athletes and fans throughout the world, we are devastated by today’s tragic news. We extend our deepest sympathies to those closest to Kobe and Gianna, especially their family and friends,” said the Nike statement.

“As we are learning more details of the accident and the others who have tragically lost their lives, our heartfelt sympathies go out to everyone involved and impacted.”

“Kobe was one of the greatest athletes of his generation and has had an immeasurable impact on the world of sport and the community of basketball. He was a beloved member of the Nike family. We will miss him greatly. Mamba forever,” Nike said.

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers
October 19, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) during a stoppage in play against the Utah Jazz during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Bryant, 41, was one of nine people killed Sunday when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in Calabasas, Calif. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also was among those who perished.

According to TheStreet, Nike had not yet replied to a request for comment Monday night. But citing sources within the company, ESPN reported the decision to suspend sales was to prevent resellers from stockpiling on Bryant gear and then selling the merchandise at elevated prices.

The report added that Nike is re-evaluating how it will release Bryant’s signature shoe series going forward.

Kobe Bryant 2

According to ESPN, more than 100 NBA players have worn Bryant shoes this season.

Thousands of people reportedly stopped by and gathered throughout the day Monday at a 35-foot poster of Bryant at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. At Nike’s regional office in Los Angeles, employees gathered in the office’s auditorium, named “Kobe.”

Also on Monday, the NBA announced that the game between the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

Since Kobe Bryant died

A number of players have been critical of the NBA’s decision to play after hearing of Bryant’s death.

Marc Gasol has said it wasn’t the correct time to play and Paul George made his feelings clear.

Again, there are numerous requests from NBA fans to remove the No.24 from all franchises in the league and change the NBA logo, which bears the silhouette of Jerry West.

Some investigators believe that the fog could have caused Bryant’s helicopter accident. Although initial investigations have only just started, some believe the dense fog could be a possible cause of the crash.

Kurt Deetz, an ex-pilot from Island Express Helicopters, gave his account of the conditions on Sunday, indicating that the helicopter was in perfect condition and the accident was probably caused by the weather conditions. “The probability of a twin-engine failure, in that helicopter model, just doesn’t happen,” Deetz said.

The Los Angeles Police Department ordered their helicopters to land due to excess fog, and made that decision on Sunday morning due to poor flying conditions.

The Dallas Mavericks have decided to retire the No.24 jersey in honour of Kobe Bryant.

Rafa Nadal is devastated by the news of Kobe’s death.

Cristiano Ronaldo has offered his tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Lionel Messi is one of the latest sports star to share his thoughts.

“I have no words,” the Barcelona ace wrote on Instagram. “All my love to the family and friends of Kobe. It was a pleasure to know you and share good moments together. We’re losing a genius.”

Michael Jordan has released a statement on the terrible news. “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing,” he wrote. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”

Magic Johnson has shared a series of posts to describe his feelings at this hard time for Laker Nation.

Barack Obama is the latest public figure to share his thoughts.

Shaquille O’Neal also shared his emotions at learning of the passing of his former teammate.

The match between the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors went ahead, but the players didn’t play for the first 24 seconds.

Heart-touching tributes to Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant died alongside eight other occupants of a private holicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the tragic loss has torn hearts into shreds.

The nine victims are now officially known. Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant (his 13-year-old daughter), Ara Zobayan (pilot), John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Sarah and Payton Chester.

Crash victims

Victims of the accident: John Altobelli, is a basketball coach for the Orange Coast Coallege Institute, died with his wife Keri Altobelli and daughter Alyssa Altobelli. Christina Mauser was Kobe’s assistant.

Barcelona held a minute’s silence during training, while the LA Lakers still haven’t put anything on their Twitter feed since Bryant’s death.

Actor and LA Lakers fan Jack Nicholson spoke about Kobe Bryant’s death.

“My reaction is the same as almost all of LA, where we think everything’s solid, there’s a big hole in the wall. I was used to seeing and talking to Kobe. It kills you. It’s just a terrible event.

“I sat right behind his jump shot on the left hand side. I can see him going up and I can tell the first instant if it’s going in.

“I remember the totality of how great a player he was. We’ll think of him all the time and we’ll miss him,” Nicholson stated.

Spanish basketball star Juan Carlos Navarro on Kobe Bryant’s death: “Yesterday was a very sad day. I prayed that it was fake news and, this morning, when I got up, I realised it wasn’t, that everything was still as sad. I still can’t believe what happened.”

The latest football club to release their condolences is Real Betis.

Zinedine Zidane has also paid tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Ricky Rubio spoke about his pain after hearing of Kobe’s death.

The conversation between the pilot of the helicopter and the control tower has some to light. Fog now seems to be the most likely cause of the accident.

Fans mourn Kobe Bryant outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles (Photos)

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Mourners arrive at a makeshift shrine at Staples Center after retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, in Los Angeles, California on 26 January, 2020.

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L.A. county firefighters on the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant in Calabasas, California, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

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Mourners look at an image of Kobe Bryant on a large screen outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

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Fans cheer in honor of Kobe Bryant as the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors let the play clock expire on each their respective first possessions at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, January 26, 2020. Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

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Los Angeles county firefighters arrive on the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant in Calabasas, California, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

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Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers wears shoes paying tribute to Kobe Bryant before the game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver, January 26, 2020. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, January 26, 2020. Harrison Hill-USA TODAY

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A basketball lies amid flowers at a makeshift shrine at Staples Center after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, in Los Angeles, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

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Mourners embrace outside the Staples Center after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, in Los Angeles, California, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

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People watch as smoke rises from the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant in Calabasas, California, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

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Mourners arrive at a makeshift shrine at Staples Center after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, in Los Angeles, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Monica Almeida

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Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, January 26, 2020. Harrison Hill-USA TODAY

LeBron James joins Lakers for $154 million

For a whopping $154 million, LeBron James has taken his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that will last four years.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.jpg

Image: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James

James, 33, led Cleveland to their NBA Finals but lost to the Golden State Warriors in a dramatic fashion despite averaging a season record of 27.5 points per game.

According to Klutch Sports, Lakers are hoping to pair James with Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, including any other quality arrival currently under negotiations.

‘It is the right decision for James,’ Cris Cwik of Yahoo Sports acknowledged. ‘It’s even more appreciated that Lakers are one of NBA’s premier franchises.’

James will take away a net salary of $35 million every season. The incremental wages will reach $41 million in his fourth year with Lakers, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said.

Former NBA rival Kobe Bryant expressed joy for James’ arrival, saying “Welcome to the family…”