26 Aug

As they mourn Kobe Bryant, Clippers get back to work

first_imgThe scoreboard reads 8 and 24 in honor of former Lakers great Kobe Bryant as the Clippers practice at their training center in Playa Vista on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Beth Harris) Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I told him once, ‘I’m on to you.’ He’s like, ‘What you mean?’ I said, ‘You want people to think you’re a jerk. But you’re one of the nicest guys in the world.’ “Kobe’s reaction? He said, ‘Bulls—.’ https://t.co/3gHKEcRF2u— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) January 29, 2020 PLAYA VISTA — With Moe Harkless wearing No. 11 instead of Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 as he put up extra shots after Clippers practice on Wednesday, Paul George made his way toward a scrum of reporters.As Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams would in the next few minutes, George did an admirable job of explaining how much he’d gained as a fan and friend of the Lakers legend: “He was my Michael Jordan,” George said. “I picked this ball up because of this man.”Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning that has left the basketball community and much of the world beyond reeling.From Bryant, George said he took the stoicism he saw in 2013 after Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon when he sustained a gruesome broken leg during a USA Basketball scrimmage in 2016.center_img “When I hurt my leg people talked to me like, ‘Oh you didn’t show no emotions,’ George said. “Well, when I seen Kobe tear his Achilles it was no emotion. He did what he had to do. And that’s kind of how I got into that mindset of being strong, don’t cry, just deal with it, be strong for my family, for my parents.”Leonard said he reached out to Bryant early in his NBA career and had been picking his brain from time to time since. Bryant helped Leonard with everything from sharing strategies for in-game situations to transportation tips, telling him about his time-saving strategy to commute by helicopter and even sharing with him his pilot, Ara Zobayan, who also perished in Sunday’s crash.“It’s sad every day,” Leonard said. “You kind of feel like life isn’t real once you start seeing these little monuments or the pictures that people are putting up with his face and the year he was born and the year he died.“It doesn’t seem real. It just seems like you’re in a movie or something. And you know, you just want to wake up. So it’s still surreal to me.”Lou Williams – who played for the Lakers in 2015-16, Bryant’s 20th and final season – said it was good to get back to practice Wednesday ahead of the Clippers’ game Thursday against the Sacramento Kings (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Prime Ticket). The game will be the second game since Bryant’s death because Tuesday’s game against the Lakers was postponed, with the Clippers’ full support, by the league. Still, Williams said, playing won’t stop the grieving.“I’ve been going through so many different emotions,” he said. “Happy. Sad. And just dealing with it on so many different levels, from knowing him, playing with him and being a fan. And, it’s tough. I cried myself to sleep last night and I woke up feeling better today. It’s just a rough time for everybody who was a fan of him, and everybody that knew him.”Rivers said he spent time Tuesday going through his pictures of Bryant, including one from a function they both attended a month ago. He said he also spoke with his son Austin, whom Bryant had taken a liking to, and he “was still not in a good way.”“So that’s where you’re at,” Doc Rivers said. “Other than that, trying to get the guys back and get ready to play. It feels like other than us and the Lakers, everyone’s still doing their jobs and so we’ve gotta figure out how to get through this and do our job. That’ll be the toughest part.”From his place near Staples Center, Leonard said he’s been observing the outpouring of love for Bryant happening outside of the arena, where legions of fans have come to pay their respects and mourn together.“I see everybody gathering, cars pulling in, everybody walking in either Kobe shoes, Kobe jerseys, T-shirts, the apparel that he had out,” Leonard said. “Just to see the gathering, the candles, the flowers, kids, grownups, dogs, all different type of animals, it’s crazy.”And all of it, George said, is deserved.“You just think of who he touched, what he’s been a part of,” said George, who has missed nine consecutive games with a hamstring strain but is considered probable to play Thursday, as is Patrick Beverley (right groin strain). “I’m not surprised by it at all. It’s exactly how we should be celebrating and honoring him.”last_img

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