On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers played their first game away from Staples Center since the helicopter crash that killed nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, last week. But while it was technically a road game, the Sacramento Kings made their California rivals feel at home for the night.
Outside of the Golden 1 Center, there was a memorial set up for fans to say their goodbyes to both Kobe and Gianna. The memorial included a whiteboard with pictures of Bryant’s best games against the Kings over his 20-year career:
Sacramento shares their love & memories of Kobe ✨ pic.twitter.com/cUbWOlJIKN— Golden 1 Center (@Golden1Center) February 2, 2020
The Golden 1 Center also lit up for Bryant when the sun went down:
Tonight we honor Kobe Bryant at Golden 1 Center pic.twitter.com/9yNS2fs7tP— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 30, 2020
The tribute from the Kings was really thoughtful and the Lakers surely appreciated it, but Los Angeles has their own way of honoring Bryant when they’re on the road.
In addition to the black and gold “KB” patch that’s sewn onto their jerseys, the Lakers have a new way of breaking their huddles before heading out to the court:
Avery Bradley says the Lakers have started saying “1-2-3 Mamba!” when breaking their huddles. On the Lakers scoring 81 in the first half, he says it shows the Lakers have an angel with them.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 2, 2020
Yes, you read that correctly: The Lakers scored 81 points in the first half of their win against the Kings Saturday; the same number of points Bryant famously scored against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. It also marked their second time doing so this season.
After the game, Anthony Davis told reporters that the number caught everyone in the locker room by surprise (via Spectrum SportsNet):
”I don’t think anyone in here caught that (at halftime), but I guess he’s with us.”
LeBron James also thought the fact that the Lakers scored 81 points in the first half was “pretty dang cool.”
The Lakers will be looking to bring that energy into Staples Center on Tuesday, when the San Antonio Spurs will be in town. The Lakers haven’t won two games in a row since Jan. 22-23.