Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young broke down in tears before his team’s game against the Washington Wizards.
The world champion Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs both took 24-second shot clock violations Sunday to honor the most famous No. 24 in NBA history.
Pro basketball players took to hardwood floors across America, all with heavy hearts, after the deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles.
Washington Wizards guards Isaiah Thomas, No. 4, and Bradley Beal hold the ball for 24 seconds on their first possession to honor the memory of former NBA player Kobe Bryant during their game against the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.Dale Zanine / USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
Young, who never played against Bryant, was clearly moved by the sudden passing of the Los Angeles Lakers legend and changed his uniform from his usual No. 11 to No. 8, one of two numbers Bryant rocked during his 20-season Lakers career.
And during warmups, he was seen in tears seeking out his mother for an extended embrace.
The emotional Young responded with 45 points and 14 assists, in a monster effort that Bryant would have surely admired.
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“Can’t make this up,” Young tweeted after the game. “He was with me tonight.”
Emotional scenes unfolded in pro arenas across America as eight games tipped off on one of the saddest days in recent basketball history.
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks holds the ball for an eight-second violation after tipoff in memory of Kobe Bryant, who wore No. 8 during part of his NBA career, during their game against the Washington Wizards in Atlanta on Sunday.Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images
The Raptors won the opening tip in their game at San Antonio and then held the ball for 24 seconds without attempting a shot, resulting in a turnover. The Spurs reciprocated as players grieved on the floor for Bryant, who wore No. 24 in the back half of his Lakers career.
The New Orleans Pelicans and the Boston Celtics also exchanged 24-second violations, and the Pelicans wore shoes honoring Bryant.
A shoe worn by Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans memorializing former NBA player Kobe Bryant as he warms up before a game against the Boston Celtics in New Orleans on Sunday.Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images
The Phoenix Suns and the host Memphis Grizzlies paid tribute to Bryant with twin turnovers.
Memphis won the opening tip, and rookie sensation Ja Morant dribbled the ball for 24 seconds for a shot clock violation. Then Phoenix guard Ricky Rubio held the ball for eight seconds in the backcourt, earning another turnover and a tribute to No. 8 Bryant.
The Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets took the floor for a 1:30 p.m. tipoff, the NBA’s first game on Sunday.
Players and fans held a moment of silence with the Pepsi Center’s public address announcer bellowing, “Rest in peace, Mamba,” a reference to the nickname Bryant gave himself, The Black Mamba.
The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets wait out the 24-second clock in honor of Kobe Bryant in the opening two sequences of their game at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday.Elsa / Getty Images
The outer walls of Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks and their city rival Brooklyn Nets played Sunday, were colored with the Lakers’ purple and gold.
The arena observed 24 seconds of silence before spectators broke out into chants of “Ko-be, Ko-be!” and the teams traded shot clock violations.
To start the Los Angeles Clippers’ game against the host Orlando Magic, the teams swapped 24-second shot clock and 8-second backcourt violations.
Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers’ stoic star, fought back tears in an interview moments after the game.
“Oh man, everybody’s sad,” he told Fox Sports West. “Words can’t explain the impact he had on this floor, the emotional impact he had on everybody.”
The Portland Trailblazers and the visiting Indiana Pacers also traded 24- and 8-second violations in their Bryant tribute at the Moda Center, which was adorned in Lakers purple and gold.