Grief-stricken fans donned Kobe Bryant T-shirts on Sunday and flocked to Madison Square Garden, which was lit up in the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers to pay tribute to the team’s legendary player.
As the Knicks prepared to take on the Brooklyn Nets inside the arena, mourners snapped photos of the illuminated exterior and an electronic billboard that featured a giant black-and-white image of Bryant facing West 33rd Street.
The Garden observed 24 seconds of silence before the tip-off to match one of Bryant’s two retired jersey numbers.
Following the silent commemoration, fans chanted, “Kobe! Kobe!” in his honor.
The NBA made its team locker rooms off-limits to reporters so players could have privacy, and Nets coach Kenny Atkinson appeared visibly shaken as he delivered a statement on behalf of his team.
Atkinson’s red-rimmed eyes were brimming with tears and he struggled to contain his emotions while discussing Bryant’s death.
“We’d like to express our sincerest condolences to the Bryant family and everybody affected by the tragedy,” he said before letting out a loud sigh. “As an organization, we’re devastated. Our players are devastated.”
Atkinson let out another big sigh before making a reference to the team’s star guard, Kyrie Irving, who left the arena upon learning that Bryant had died.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him also,” Atkinson said. “Just a tough time for the NBA, for all of us.”