Lakers pay tribute to Kobe Bryant before game against Trail Blazers

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By: Isaiah Robinson

LOS ANGELES–The Los Angles Lakers gave an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the other victims of the tragic helicopter crash ahead of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center.

The ceremony opened with Usher standing in the center of the court singing “Amazing Grace.” Cellist Ben Hong performed “Hallelujah” as a montage of Bryant’s career and life played on the jumbotron. Boyz II Men sung the National Anthem as Bryant’s two jerseys were lit in the rafters.

Afterwards, 24.2 seconds of silence were observed to honor Bryant, which was followed by “Ko-be!” chants.

Several Lakers and Blazers players teared up during the ceremony.

Two courtside seats were also left vacant in honor of the Black Mamba and Gigi.

 

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There is no #24 without #2. #GirlDaddy #DaddysGirl #MyBabies #OurAngels #KobeandGigi

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T-shirts with Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 were placed on the seats, while coaches on the bench wore a pair of Kobe’s signature sneakers during the game.

A “KB” decal was placed on the Staples Center floor.

Jersey patches were sewn on the Lakers’ jerseys to commemorate Bryant’s death.

Both teams stood on the court during the pregame tribute to Bryant including songs, Kobe highlights and Lebron James’ speech, which captivated the arena.

James began with a pre-written speech, but later tossed aside the written remarks and spoke off the cuff.

“So in the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba out,” James told the crowd. “But in the words of us, `not forgotten.’ Live on, brother.”

After James’ speech, both teams took to the court.

Blazers’ Damian Lillard scored 48 points, hit seven 3-pointers, added 10 assists and nine rebounds in an inspired effort that sent the Blazers to a win over the Lakers.

James had 22 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds and Anthony Davis had 37 points, 18 in the first quarter, and 15 boards.

The Lakers committed 13 turnovers in the first half.

Lillard went off in the third quarter, scoring 23 points and hitting six 3-pointers.

The Lakers trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter before a “Kobe! Kobe!” chant broke out and swiftly made a 9-0 run, but the Blazers stayed steadily ahead.

“We understood this was going to be a difficult one,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t want to lose, but this week has been more about life than basketball. … We’ve got to continue to focus on the work. There’s therapy in the work.”