The Staples Center, also known as the “House That Kobe Built,” will be giving each fan at tonight’s (Jan. 31) game a shirt to honor the late Kobe Bryant.
One side of Staples Center is blanketed in No. 8 shirts, the first number he wore as a Laker. The other side of the arena is covered No. 24 shirts, which is the number Bryant wore in the latter part of his career.
Tonight’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, will be the Lakers first game back since Bryant tragically passed away. Their Tuesday (Jan. 28) game against the Los Angeles Clippers was postponed following the news of his death.
Bryant died in his helicopter while he was traveling to a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were also traveling with Bryant. There were no survivors.
Investigators are trying to piece together what caused the crash, but there was reportedly heavy fog in the area that the helicopter had to travel through.
Tonight’s game will most likely be extremely emotional for a lot of the players, especially Bryant’s friend, LeBron James.
The night before Bryant died, James passed him on the NBA’s All-Time scoring list. James wore shoes with “Mamba 4 Life” written on them as he broke the record. Bryant’s final tweet was a congratulations tweet to James for passing him on the scoring list.
After Bryant’s death, James wrote an emotional post to the legend on Instagram.
He wrote, “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!” James wrote. “You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit 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!!”
Check out a photo of how the Staples Center looks ahead of tonight’s game.