Intent on creating their own identity, the Clippers usually cover the Lakers’ banners and retired jersey numbers for their home games at Staples Center.
But for the Clippers’ game against Sacramento on Thursday — the first NBA contest to be played in the arena since the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday — the Clippers left Bryant’s retired jerseys uncovered and on display high above the floor.
The rest of the Lakers’ championship banners and retired jerseys were covered by the usual images of Clippers players and a city landscape but Bryant’s 8 and 24 stood out on a stark black background.
A moment of silence is scheduled for just past 7:33 p.m.
The hockey Kings on Wednesday played the first sporting event at Staples Center after Bryant’s death. Players honored him by wearing his jersey to the arena and commemorative decals on their helmets, and the team remembered him in a pregame ceremony.
The Clippers came out in warmups with a tributes to Bryant.
On the front, there was a small black patch with KB24 in white letters.
On the back was a stenciled number — in some cases an 8, in others a 24.
Scents of flowers and candles dominate the area across from Staples Center where fans are paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and those who died alongside him in the helicopter crash on Sunday.
Fans also have left balloons, basketballs, jerseys, cards, stuffed animals and personal notes in his honor on 11th street and on Xbox Plaza at L.A. Live. The mood was respectful and somber late Thursday afternoon, but a few hustlers were selling homemade T shirts and caps.
On Friday the Lakers will play their first home game since Bryant’s death, and it’s likely fans who don’t have tickets to the game will want to be near Staples Center. However, Michael Roth, vice president of communication for AEG, urged fans to honor Bryant in a different way.
“So much of Kobe Bryant’s legacy this week has been about his post-playing career being quality family time,” Roth said while standing at Xbox Plaza. “And because we’re not able to show the game out here or broadcast the audio from the game it would be a wonderful opportunity and additional tribute to Kobe to watch the game as a family activity with everybody, which likely will remind everybody about the first time they saw Kobe, with whatever family member—parent, child, mother, father. And it’s a nice way to experience it again together.”