SALT LAKE CITY — The house lights dimmed at Vivint Arena five minutes before tipoff, and a painful silence filled the usually loud building.
A smattering of fans around the arena broke the abrupt silence by respectfully yelling, “Ko-be! Ko-be! Ko-be!” On behalf of the Jazz, P.A. announcer Dan Roberts then honored basketball legend Kobe Bryant by briefly going over some of the impact he’d made on the game of basketball.
The crowd was then asked to honor the tragic loss of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people who died in a helicopter accident in Southern California on Sunday morning.
Not a sound was heard for a peaceful and respectful few moments as a photo of Bryant was displayed on the giant video screens with the words, “In Loving Memory, Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020.”
After the national anthem and introductions, the Jazz and Rockets then paid tribute to a man who meant so much to so many. Utah first took a 24-second shot-clock violation and then Houston followed with an eight-second backcourt violation to pay respects to Bryant, who wore Nos. 24 and 8 during his tremendous 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The crowd included a number of fans wearing Bryant jerseys and T-shirts. Fans also paid tribute to the five-time NBA champion and former NBA MVP with a makeshift honorary shrine with Kobe-related items along with purple and yellow balloons and flowers on the J-note monument in front of the arena.