Preview: Lakers play the Trail Blazers following the loss of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 31: The Los Angeles Lakers honor Kobe Bryant by laying out t-shirts for fans before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 31, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tonight the Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the Portland Trail Blazers at home, their first game in the Staples Center since January 15th. The Lakers will be looking to continue their goal of trying to never lose two games in a row, following their road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on January 25th. But to be honest, none of that really matters in the grand scheme of things as this team and organization are still in mourning. Kobe Bryant is gone, but the Lakers still have to get back to work.

The franchise will try to get as close as they can back to normal after their game on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers was postponed so that they could have more time to grief and recover. It will not be easy, and all the work that will need to be done to reach some sense of normalcy won’t be completed all on Friday night. It’ll take some time, but tonight will be the first step in pursuit of the goal to put this season back on track.

A night of remembering Kobe Bryant

Although this game is important to the Lakers, the real story will be the remembrance of Kobe Bryant in the stadium where he helped win five championships while giving us countless memories. There’s sure to be a moment of silence as well as a likely 24-second shot clock violation and 8-second backcourt violation in honor of Kobe’s two retired jerseys, but there will be many more tributes to Kobe throughout the night. For one, it’s been reported that Frank Vogel and the rest of the Lakers coaching staff will all be wearing a pair of Kobe Bryant’s shoes with Nike. You have to imagine most, if not all of the players will be following suit as well. In the video below, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN seems to tease that the Lakers organization has some big plans to pay tribute to Kobe tonight, although not much has been confirmed.

There has been one tribute to Kobe that has been confirmed, and that is what the fans will receive upon arriving at their seats. That is, of course, t-shirts with Kobe’s jersey number and name on the back. You have to capture both the “24” and “8” jerseys, as one half of the stadium will receive one with the other side receiving the other.

Frank Vogel has been preaching all week that the Lakers have been healing through immersing themselves in the process of preparation for Friday’s game. They may have put off some added emotion throughout the week with that preparation, but there’s sure to be a lot of tears shed Friday night. One of Kobe’s longtime friends and foes has already decided that he can’t play tonight, as it has been reported by Shams Charania/Stadium that Carmelo Anthony will not be playing.

The Lakers tried to find as much time as they could to heal by postponing Tuesday’s game, but it’s time to lace them back up and soldier on.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Frank Vogel, Jeanie Buss, and Rob Pelinka will look to lead the team through this terrible tragedy starting tonight. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. PST, with the game being broadcasted on ESPN and Spectrum SportsNet.

Mamba forever.

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