The NBA has announced that Tuesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers has been postponed in the aftermath of the news that Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning.
Here is the full press release from the NBA:
The National Basketball Association game between the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Staples Center has been postponed. The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
The game will be rescheduled at a later date.
The matchup between the two Los Angeles-based teams was highly anticipated, as the Lakers have yet to best the Clippers in the two games they’ve played this season, and the expectation is that the Lakers and Clippers will be the last two teams standing in the Western Conference this season.
However, it would have been hard for the Lakers to go on with the game as scheduled, as so many people within the organization had close ties to Bryant, whether it’s Rob Pelinka, who was one Bryant’s best friends and Gianna’s god father, or Jeanie Buss, who first met Bryant when he was 18 years old.
That’s not to mention the people that actually have to play in the game like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who played with Bryant on the 2012 Olympic team, and Dwight Howard, who played with Bryant on the Lakers during the 2012-13 season. Even Kyle Kuzma considered Bryant a close mentor.
It’s for that reason the Clippers and the NBA accepted the Lakers’ request to postpone the game.
Discussions among the NBA, Lakers and Clippers played out over the past several hours --- ultimately with no objection from the Clippers to honor Lakers request of postponing Tuesday's game in aftermath of Kobe Bryant's passing, per sources. https://t.co/XhJZlPuLBE— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 27, 2020
Sources: After tragic death of Kobe Bryant, NBA and the Lakers/Clippers consulted all day, with grief counselors on sight with Lakers organization. Ultimately, the decision was made to postpone Tuesday's game and allow entire Lakers franchise to continue to grieve, mourn, heal.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 27, 2020
The Lakers aren’t the only team that’s hurting, though. After the Clippers’ 112-97 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, Kawhi Leonard talked about Bryant’s impact in the locker room (via Fox Sports West):
“Everybody is sad. Words can’t explain his impact... The emotional impact he had on everybody. We’re a team from L.A., so we know L.A.’s history with him and it’s just sad.”
With Tuesday’s game set to be rescheduled, the Lakers’ next game is scheduled for Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers. Pau Gasol, one of Bryant’s closest friends and former teammates, is an assistant coach for the Trail Blazers. Portland’s newest acquisition, Trevor Ariza, was also teammates with Bryant when Gasol was.
Suffice to say, Bryant made a lot of connections during his 20 years in the league, so there’s more than just two teams mourning his loss. The fact that teams had to play just hours after learning about his death was a mistake, one it seems the NBA has learned from.