There's little doubt it was challenging for the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors to focus on basketball following devastating news of Lakers great Kobe Bryant's death, considering many members of each team either played and coached against or grew up idolizing the Los Angeles legend.
Both teams put their competitive nature aside for a moment to start their game Sunday, agreeing that whoever won the opening tip would hold the ball for 24 seconds, resulting in a shot clock violation. Bryant, in the latter part of his 20-year career, wore no. 24.
The Raptors won the tip, took the violation, and the Spurs followed suit, running out the clock on their end, as well, before the game really began.
If there's any doubt about the respect Bryant garnered around the league just listen to Spurs fans — who consider the Lakers one of their biggest rivals as a result of epic clashes between the two teams that spanned Bryant's career — chant his name name as they began to realize what was unfolding on the court. Tim O'Donnell