“Welcome back to Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks and Nets will play on this unbelievably sad day for the NBA,” ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Breen said.
“On my way into the arena, I thought of Bill Gallo,” Breen continued. “When Thurman Munson passed away, the next day he (Gallo) had an unbelievably touching cartoon. And it was his two characters he had, Basement Bertha and Yuchie. And the cartoon read, Basement Bertha saying, ‘Naw, Yuckie – I just don’t feel like playin’ ball today. And she was crying. And that’s the way I think a lot of us feel here tonight.”
But the players in the NBA did play Sunday night, but they didn’t do so without honoring their fallen hero, Kobe Bryant.
After the Nets took the opening tip at Madison Square Garden, they held the ball, waited for the 24-second shot clock to run out, and then handed the ball to the referee in honor of Kobe who wore number 24.
Several other teams did the same thing, and several more held the ball without crossing half-court for an eight second back court violation. Kobe wore number eight early in his NBA career. Both his number 24 and number 8 were retired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017.
Every arena who hosted an NBA game on Sunday, Jan. 26 held some sort of pregame Kobe Bryant tribute. But the games went on, even though it was difficult.
“I just don’t feel like broadcasting. I know a lot of the players don’t feel like playing,” Breen said while holding back tears. “It’s just a sad, sad day.”