The scheduled game between the Los Angeles Lakers and cross-town rivals Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on January 28 has been postponed following the untimely death of superstar Kobe Bryant over the weekend.
The game will be played at an unspecified later date, the National Basketball Association announced. “The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving” the accident that claimed Bryant and eight others, the NBA said in a statement.
The next game on the Lakers’ schedule is Friday night at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine who were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.
The NBA elected to keep its full game schedule on Sunday in the hours immediately following the crash. But the Lakers are said to not yet be prepared to play again after the death of Bryant, a highly popular on-court figure and franchise icon who over nearly the past four years had transitioned to a successful business career.
The league and Clippers both deferred in the decision to postpone the game to the Lakers, who did not release a statement on Bryant’s death until more than 24 hours after the accident. The grief rippling through the Lakers organization goes beyond basketball operations to the many employees working in and around the Staples Center, where Bryant played the vast majority of his home games.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Lakers brought in grief counselors for employees. The team also canceled its scheduled practice on Monday.
“The Los Angeles Lakers would like to thank all of you for the tremendous outpouring of support and condolences,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
Despite the game’s postponement, US broadcaster TNT announced it will feature a tribute to Bryant with a one-hour pregame show on January 28 from Staples Center at 7pm ET.
Ticket prices for the Lakers’ first game since Bryant’s death had soared in value on the secondary market, as fans looked to pay tribute to their hero. Prices on StubHub ranged from approximately $1,000 for the cheapest seats in the upper level to $38,000 for courtside seats, before taxes and fees, on Monday afternoon. StubHub had announced that all fees for the game will be donated to the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.
The NBA has not postponed a game due to circumstances outside of weather or technical issues since 2013, when a Boston Celtics-Indiana Pacers game was not played due to the Boston Marathon bombing that spring.
Tributes to Bryant continued on Monday, with many fans laying flowers at his former high school Lower Merion High School in the Philadelphia area, as well as outside Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. ESPN on Monday evening re-aired Bryant’s final game in the NBA from 2016, in which he scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz.
Meanwhile, sportswear company Nike has pulled all Bryant-related items from its Nike.com webstore, ESPN has reported. The aim, according to the article, is to prevent purchasers reselling items for elevated prices on the secondary market.
It has also emerged that Bryant was writing a children’s book with Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho but the author of The Alchemist has since deleted the draft.
“I deleted the draft because it didn’t make any sense to publish without him,” Coelho told the Associated Press. “It wouldn’t add anything relevant to him or his family. That doesn’t stop me from writing someday about things I learned from Kobe and how much of a larger than life person he was. But the children’s book did not make sense anymore.”