This week in the bubble, Kobe Bryant will be top of mind for many with the OKC Thunder and teams competing in the playoffs.
The 2019-20 National Basketball Association season has been anything but typical. With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world, it has changed everyone’s daily lives and what we typically consider a normal day. It’s been great that sports found a way to bring back games and OKC Thunder fans get to watch their club competing in the playoffs.
Typically this time of year for the NBA is more focused on preparing for the upcoming season but the pandemic has shifted the season to play out in the summer months. Because of the shift, it ties into what would have been Kobe Bryant‘s 42nd birthday and what will be forever known moving forward as Mamba Day (August 24th) and Mamba week for some.
Mamba Monday in full effect
Throughout the bubble players who were specifically affected by Kobe Bryant had the former superstar on their minds. Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum wore a purple armband in his game on Sunday to pay tribute to Bryant. Tatum grew up mesmerized by Bryant, eventually attending his Mamba summer camp and becoming friends with the superstar.
In the closeout game between the Celtics and 76ers, the arena they played in had a purple banner noting Kobe Bryant’s initials (KB) and his daughter Gianna’s jersey number 2 on it.
On Monday, the OKC Thunder took to the court in the Disney bubble and competed through to clutch time coming from behind to win another game in this pivotal segment of the game. That in itself would’ve been a fitting tribute to Bryant’s tenacity. Chris Paul was especially close to Bryant and several players on the OKC Thunder were influenced by Kobe growing up.
Also on the court Monday was the Los Angeles Lakers who had an extra emphasis on winning. Not simply because they are the top seed in the West but also this day was designated as Kobe Bryant Day (or Mamba Day).
More from Thunderous Intentions
The Lakers wore uniforms designed with Bryant in mind. And during the first quarter an oddity occurred when the Lakers took a massive 16 point lead to go up 8-24. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed the ‘and one’ free throw so the scoreboard registered the 8-24 for an extended period which several players watching reacted to including the OKC Thunder captain Chris Paul.
Moving forward with this week the OKC Thunder and Houston Rockets will play Game 5 on Wednesday and are one of only two series that are even. The LA Clippers and Mavericks will tip off their Game 5 tonight. Three Eastern teams swept their series with the Bucks looking to join them with their next game. The Lakers and Jazz are also up 3-1 in their series.
As the teams near the end of the first-round half of the occupants will be leaving the bubble shortly. Let’s hope the OKC isn’t one of those clubs.