NBA Did Not Seriously Consider Postponing Games After Kobe News
The NBA "did not give serious consideration to postponing" yesterday's games following the death of Kobe Bryant, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. It has been "suggested by many" that Bryant "would have wanted teams to honor him by playing." The NBA "received criticism on social media for playing games." However, there were other "logistical reasons, such as arena availability and rescheduling six games for 12 teams with less than half a season remaining, that make it difficult to play postponed games." Because the league already had afternoon games scheduled, teams were "already in arenas getting ready to play" when the news of Bryant's death broke (USA TODAY, 1/27). In San Antonio, Jeff McDonald reports the NBA "considered postponing all or some of Sunday's slate of games but opted to move forward with business as usual on a day that was anything but" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/27). In Massachusetts, John Karalis notes there were "discussions around the league about whether the games should have been canceled," but once it was "clear the games would go on, the best that teams could do was honor Bryant's memory" (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 1/27). Meanwhile, in L.A., Ganguli & Turner report it is "unclear" if the Lakers will play tomorrow night's home game against the Clippers. The NBA "doesn’t have much precedent for canceling" games, as President Kennedy's assassination in '63 was the "last time it canceled games due to tragedy" (L.A. TIMES, 1/27).
SHOULD THE GAMES HAVE GONE ON? Whether or not the NBA should have postponed yesterday's games was a big topic among players. Nets G and NBPA VP Garrett Temple said, "I've been a part of this league long enough to know the business side and how it goes. The type of person he was and what he meant to this game, what he meant to this league, it would be very understandable if the games had gotten canceled" (NEWSDAY, 1/27). In N.Y., Brian Lewis writes Nets-Knicks yesterday afternoon was "played in an eerie, surreal atmosphere" at MSG. Nets G Spencer Dinwiddie "admitted when he heard the shocking news, he fully expected the league would call the game off." He said, "I thought they were going to get canceled. But the NBA is a business, and I understand there's probably logistical issues with clearing arenas and things, so they chose not to" (N.Y. POST, 1/27). Wizards G Isaiah Thomas: "The NBA should have just canceled all the games because that put a dent in everybody's life that he's touched" (NBCSPORTSWASHINGTON.com, 1/26). Knicks F Marcus Morris: "Honestly, I didn't even think we should have played" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/26). Celtics F Gordon Hayward said that he "didn't really want to play" yesterday, but added that it was "probably not what Bryant would have wanted" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/27). Meanwhile, AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Matt Clapp noted MSG Network's Mike Breen during the Nets-Knicks telecast got "choked up while talking about the NBA games continuing on Sunday after Bryant's death." Breen: "I just don't feel like broadcasting, and I know a lot of the players don't feel like playing" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 1/26).
SOMBER ENERGY: In N.Y., Marc Berman writes the "anticlimactic" Nets-Knicks game had the "feel of a preseason jaunt with its quiet throng and lack of energy in the early going." Nets G Kyrie Irving, who was "close to Bryant and considered him his idol, chose not to play," and "left the arena after he warmed up" (N.Y. POST, 1/27). In New Jersey, Chris Iseman notes "no music was played" during the Knicks' win, with "only the sounds of squeaking sneakers, the dribbles of the ball and public address announcer Mike Walczewski announcing the scoring" (Bergen RECORD, 1/27). In N.Y., Kristian Winfield writes there was a "somber ambiance about Madison Square Garden, the air sucked out of a building that should have been full of electricity" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27). Also in N.Y., Sarah Valenzuela writes as games around the league played on, there was an "apparent and obvious feel of sorrow all around" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27). The EXPRESS-NEWS' McDonald writes, "'Pall' doesn't quite describe the atmosphere at the AT&T Center as word of Bryant's stunning death began to hit home." Just before Raptors-Spurs tipped off yesterday, an "unusual silence fell upon the arena" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/27).
TOUCHING TRIBUTES: In Cleveland, Chris Fedor notes the NBA is "expected to drive the process in which teams honor Bryant in the coming days" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/27). In Denver, Mike Singer writes Rockets-Nuggets was the "first of eight NBA contests to be played" after the news broke yesterday. The team "reacted quickly to prepare an extended moment of silence before the singing of the national anthem" (DENVER POST, 1/27). The other seven games all featured some form of a planned shot-clock violation to begin the game as a tribute to Bryant (THE DAILY).