The NBA postponed Tuesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers in the wake of the accidental death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. According to William Hill, the tragedy hasn’t changed NBA championship odds. The LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks are all co-favorites at 3/1 odds to win the NBA title.
On a foggy Sunday morning, a helicopter transporting Kobe and his daughter, and six other people, crashed in Calabasas. There were no survivors with nine total fatalities, including the pilot.
NBA games were played on Sunday as scheduled. Sportsbooks in Las Vegas shut down action on all NBA games because bookmakers couldn’t quantify how Kobe’s death would hit different teams and players.
Officials from the Lakers and Clippers met on Monday to discuss a plan to cancel Tuesday’s game, which would have been the first Lakers game since the tragedy occurred. The Clippers honored the Lakers request for postponement, which the NBA league office granted.
“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,” said the NBA through a statement on Monday.
The Lakers were originally hosting a home game against the Clippers set for Tuesday night at Staples Center. The Lakers cancelled practice on Monday while the team and entire organization were still mourning the loss of Kobe.
The NBA hasn’t yet set a new date for the Lakers/Clippers game.
Sunday Games Played On
Although the NBA didn’t cancel regularly scheduled games on Sunday, players and fans had mixed reactions about whether the league did the right thing.
In one sense, the NBA is sports-entertainment, and the primary rule of showbiz is “The show must go on.”
In another sense, Kobe was known as a fierce competitor, and several of his friends and former teammates believed the best way to pay tribute to Kobe would be to go out and play.
“I know he’d have wanted me to come out here and try to ball and still just be great, so that’s what I tried to do tonight,” said Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers.
However, a large group of players and coaches were deeply affected by Kobe’s death. Several players, including Kyrie Irving, sat out games on Sunday.
“Guys that actually played with him, that was on the scene with him, they took it the toughest,” said the NY Knicks forward Marcus Morris. “Honestly, I don’t think we should have played, but it is what it is. It’s devastating news, and I just really pray for his family.”
Several NBA teams paid different tributes to Kobe. Trae Young, who recently discovered he was Gianna Bryant’s favorite NBA player, paid homage to the Bryants by wearing #8 (one of Kobe’s numbers with the Lakers) to start the game.
Multiple team, including the Knicks and Nets, accepted a shot clock violation and let all 24 seconds wind down in tribute to Kobe, who also wore #24 with the Lakers.
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 26, 2020
The New York Knicks lit up the exterior of Madison Square Garden in Lakers colors while paying tribute before the game.
Lakers Postponed, Post-Kobe Odds
The Lakers were flying back from Philadelphia when they heard the tragic news. Paparazzi captured LeBron James crying when he exited the team plane upon touching down in Los Angeles.
On Instagram, LeBron paid tribute to Kobe.
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!” posted @KingJames. “I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this sh-t on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me.”
While LeBron and the Lakers are still grieving over Kobe’s death, it made sense to postpone their first game, which also happened to be a home game. The Staples Center and surrounding area became a makeshift memorial for Kobe on Sunday.
According to William Hill, the helicopter crash hasn’t changed the odds for the LA Lakers to win the championship. The Lakers are current co-favorites with the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks became the first team to reach 40 wins this season, and they’re on pace for 71 total wins.