Warriors to skip half-time break to honour Lakers legend Kobe
The Los Angeles Lakers will retire superstar Kobe Bryant's jerseys this morning (Singapore time), and it's a farewell even rivals Golden State Warriors don't want to miss.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters in Oakland that his players would be on the bench, not back in their locker room, for the half-time festivities at Staples Center.
"Just the experience in seeing one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there," Kerr said.
"I'm not going to keep them in the locker room to watch tape of the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts."
Kerr quipped that his plan depended on approval from the Lakers, whose president Jeanie Buss was quick to respond.
"Of course they are invited! We expected they would want to pay their respects to one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA," Buss tweeted.
The Lakers will raise both numbers that Bryant wore - eight and 24 - in his two-decade career all spent with the Lakers.
Bryant, who retired last year, scored 33,643 points, the third-most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
The five-time NBA champion will become the 10th Lakers player to have his number retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, James Worthy, Jerry West and Jamaal Wilkes.
The Lakers will also host a Bryant-themed street festival outside Staples Center dubbed "Kobeland".
"When it happens, it'll be a little bit emotional," Lakers coach Luke Walton said of the jersey ceremony.
Warriors' Kevin Durant paid tribute to Bryant, saying: "He was such an all-world competitor... I do miss that intensity that he brought to the court. He raised everybody's - opponents, coaching staff - level of play."
Bryant said: "As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers' rafters, but I certainly never imagined two of them. The Lakers have bestowed a huge honour on me and I'm grateful for the fans' enthusiasm around this game." - WIRE SERVICES