NBA Teams Intentionally Commit On-Court Violations To Pay Tribute To Kobe Bryant

A grief-stricken NBA honored Kobe Bryant, the basketball phenom and Los Angeles Lakers legend, in ways big and small on Sunday.

Bryant and eight others, including the NBA star’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Bryant was 41.

Several NBA teams chose to commit on-court violations during their Sunday games to pay tribute to Bryant. Some allowed the 24-second shot clock to run out at the start of their match-ups; players also committed 8-second violations in a nod to the NBA star.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who played with the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons, wore jersey numbers 8 and 24 during his illustrious career. 

The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, who played at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, were among the teams that honored Bryant. 

The Spurs lost the game, but coach Gregg Popovich appeared to only have Bryant on the brain after the contest. 

“Good game, tough loss, who cares?” Popovich told reporters. 

“We all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us in so many ways, and so many millions of people loved him for so many different reasons,” Popovich said. 

Beyond the NBA, Bryant’s death caused shockwaves in the sports world at large.

Za’Darius Smith and Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers both paid tribute to Bryant during the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday. 

Smith gathered his teammates on the field to celebrate Bryant, and Adams held up two and four fingers to the cameras after scoring a touchdown.

“Kobe always meant something special to me,” Smith later said.

Soccer star Neymar also honored Bryant by flashing the numbers 2 and 4 with his fingers after scoring a goal for his team, Paris Saint-Germain, in France.

“It’s very sad for the world of sport and for all of us, not just for the basketball fans as he did so much for sport in general,” Neymar said of Bryant, Reuters reported. “I hope he will rest in peace.”