By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Los Angeles Lakers will pay tribute to Kobe Bryant on Friday when the team plays its first game since the NBA great died, although details of what that will entail remain unclear.
Bryant perished along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed in foggy weather on a hillside northwest of Los Angeles on Sunday.
“I’m gonna let that play out tomorrow night, let you guys see it,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Thursday when asked what tributes fans could expect to see when the team takes on the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
“I’ve been briefed on some of the things that we’re going to see. But I’m going to let that play out tomorrow night.”
The Lakers postponed a game scheduled for Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers after news of the accident broke and it is unclear when that game will be made up.
Practice on Thursday began with some flag football on an outside field near the team’s practice facility in what Vogel called “therapeutic” Southern California sunshine.
“We are striking a balance of trying to make us feel good,” Vogel said.
“Laughter is always a good remedy for something like this when it’s appropriate.
“We’ve had some of that at today’s workout outside … it’s not the first time we’ve done that but it does feel good to be out there, you know, just a little bit of a change up.
“It was really just a warm-up, once we came inside it was business, get back to business and lock into the work.”
Vogel said the team is beginning to get back to normal but admitted staying focused on the task at hand on Friday will be challenging amid tributes to Bryant, who played 20 seasons with the Lakers, winning five championships and millions of fans.
“I would imagine it probably makes it a little harder than an ordinary game, with all the emotions and that stuff, but we shouldn’t do it any other way,” he said.
“It’s the right thing to do, you know it will be an important night for our franchise and for Laker nation.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)