More On The Death Of Kobe Bryant

It still feels surreal to be talking about the passing of Kobe Bryant.

Jim Rome
January 28, 2020 - 10:03 am
Kobe Bryant

USA Today


Another day later, and it still feels surreal to be talking about the passing of Kobe Bryant and to be talking about Kobe in the past tense. Completely surreal to see flowers on the bench of the UConn women’s game honoring Gianna. Completely surreal to hear Novak Djokovic talking to John McEnroe about Kobe after his quarterfinal.

I could spend the entire show playing clips of tributes to Kobe coming in from all around the world and it would be worthwhile, because it would be a way of showing the impact that he had, both professionally and personally on people. 

As the world continues to react to the passing of Kobe Bryant, tonight’s Clippers-Lakers game at Staples, which would’ve been the first for the Lakers since Kobe’s passing has been postponed. The league said in a statement that "The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday.”

The Lakers also released their first formal statement since the tragedy: "In consultation with the NBA League office, the game scheduled between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers for Tuesday, January 28 will be postponed and scheduled for a future date. 

The Los Angeles Lakers would like to thank all of you for the tremendous outpouring of support and condolences. This is a very difficult time for all of us. We continue to support the Bryant family and will share more information as it is available."

It was the right decision. Playing tonight might have been cathartic for some, but way too raw and way too painful for others. And while it might be a hassle to reschedule other games, the fact that this is a game between two teams who share the same city and share the same building, there was no good reason NOT to postpone it.  

The Lakers cancelled practice yesterday as the team brought grief counselors to the facility for support. It would be ridiculous to have grief counselors for the organization one day and then play in a game 24 hours later. 

And this isn’t just a Laker thing and it’s not just the Lakers who are dealing with it. You saw how emotional Doc Rivers was on Sunday talking about Kobe. And yesterday, Clipper Lou Williams, who played with Kobe, tweeted: "Been crying on and off. Have a random thought about things we spoke about then laugh. Cry again. Then I tell myself tighten up, mamba was tough. Wipe my eyes. Cry again RIPKOBE." 

Williams was also tweeting back and forth with Nick Young and laughing about a particular memory: 

We got blew out in Portland. He took everybody Kobe’s and said they couldn’t wear it cause we was soft.

That was a perfect tweet to read yesterday. It felt like a lot of people needed that tweet, because it was so funny, and so Kobe. Coming back into the locker room and telling everyone they weren’t allowed to wear his shoes because they were soft. That was perfect.

And in response to that Lou Williams tweet, someone posted a clip of Lou on the All the Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. And it is another great Kobe story, quite possibly after the same blowout in Portland.

Again, it feels like we needed that moment and that memory. And hopefully, as the shock wears off and the sharp pain softens, there will be more of those. 

But it’s a process. And while there are moments to laugh, there are still the waves of grief. 

And LeBron James summed that up in his post on Instagram: I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially Laker Nation and it’s my responsibility to put this bleep on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! Mamba 4 Life Gigi 4 Life.

That is extremely real and extremely personal. And it feels like in some way, LeBron is speaking for millions of Laker fans. 

You read that and you feel the emotion in that post and you know that there was no way to play a basketball game tonight. Not a basketball game that counts for anything. Because it’s too raw, the pain is too fresh. 

Sometimes playing through something is a good idea and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s important to stop and acknowledge what has happened and how it impacts everyone. It’s okay for people who were close to Kobe to be crushed by this and it’s okay for people who never met him to be crushed by this. That’s how it grief works. 

The truth is, there will probably never feel like a right time for the Lakers to play after this, but tonight definitely would’ve been the wrong time.