Following a moment of silence at Sunday afternoon's game at the AT&T Center, the Spurs and Toronto Raptors let the shot clock run out after tipoff, a somber 24 seconds in honor of Bryant, who wore both 8 and 24 during his two decades as a Laker. Fans inside the arena chanted "Kobe!" following the tribute.
After the Spurs' loss to the Raptors, San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, usually a jokester in media interviews, reflected on the tragedy felt across the basketball world with Kobe's passing.
Right after the Raptors&Spurs honored Kobe by running out the shot clock, the ball got stuck on the backboard. Sean Elliott & Bill Land made a light-hearted joke that it was Kobe's possession. Trey Lyles of the Spurs helped bring the ball down. He wears #41 -- Kobe's age. Chills. pic.twitter.com/2iz1tKxeb4— g (@hashtag_gracy) January 27, 2020
"Good game, tough loss, who cares," Popovich said. "All of us knew what a great player he was, but he went beyond great play. He was a competitor. It goes unmatched."
“We all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us in so many ways.”— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 26, 2020
Coach Pop on Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/DFYBJfNklh
Perhaps no other team knows just how tough a competitor Bryant was than the Spurs. While the Spurs-Lakers rivalry isn't as strong as it once was, many San Antonians remember the teams battling it out during most of the 2000s as they vied to be top in the Western Conference.
During that era, the Spurs were able to win the NBA championship in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, while the Lakers disrupted SA's potential domination of the decade by snatching the title in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Bryant, who retired in 2016, also led his team to championships in 2009 and 2010.
This quote is everything from Kobe Bryant after he played his last game in San Antonio... pic.twitter.com/J8XnPcci4i— Spurs Family (@SASpursFamily) January 27, 2020
From Jack Greene's archives - Kobe Bryant watching his tribute video at the AT&T Center before playing his last game in San Antonio on Feb. 6, 2016. #Spurs fans with "Kobe" chants. pic.twitter.com/5GkLIPedl4— Chase Shannon (@chase_shannon) January 26, 2020
Although Spurs fans may have held bitter feelings toward Bryant and the Lakers back then, the star's contributions to the game and pop culture have eased those hostilities. Alamo City fans may have hated Bryant during those years, but the respect and recognition for his game stayed constant. And now in his death, basketball stars, retired legends like Bryant himself and everyday fans are pouring out their love for the the player nicknamed the "Black Mamba."
Devastated.— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) January 26, 2020
Hard to put what you meant to so many people into words. I will miss a great person on and off the court. You always took the time to show my kids and family love and I will never forget that! RIP Kobe 💔 pic.twitter.com/PGTYNbVNXn— LaMarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) January 27, 2020
kobe was so present in all our lives in so many different ways— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) January 26, 2020
this news feels beyond stunning
Bigger Than A Game Of Basketball. Thank You KOBE For Inspiring Me To Not Make Excuses And Get Shit Done But Most Importantly Thank You For Inspiring Me As A FATHER, You And GIGI Relationship Motivated Me To Rock With My Baby Girl Anywhere And Anyplace!! 🙏🏽💔#Kobe💛 #GIGI💛 pic.twitter.com/5WkJfEA4ch— Dejounte Murray (@DejounteMurray) January 27, 2020
My heart breaks... Thank you for everything you gave us on and off the court. Thank you for my nickname. Thank you for everything you taught us about the #MambaMentality... A true icon and champion... Praying hard for your family... RIP Black Mamba 😔🙏 #MambaForever pic.twitter.com/t4jRBckVMp— Matt Bonner (@mattbonner_15) January 26, 2020
While longtime Spur Tim Duncan, who also retired in 2016, doesn't have social media accounts to share a touching message, footage of him crying while sitting courtside speaks volumes. The display of emotion is a testament to the the friendship and competition between the pair after leading their respective teams against one another.
I’ll never forget the playoff battles between Kobe’s Lakers & Timmy’s Spurs... RIP to an absolute legend 🐐 pic.twitter.com/xdBgqkgaIN— /r/spurs (@redditspurs) January 26, 2020
"We all feel a deep sense of loss for what he meant to all of us in so many ways and so many millions of people loved him for so many reasons," Popovich said.
Below is the tribute video the Spurs put together in honor of Bryant's last game against San Antonio.
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