Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing is taking a toll on players around the NBA, including his former Team USA teammate, Carmelo Anthony.
Unfortunately, the NBA is collectively grieving the death of Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers will play their first game since Bryant’s untimely accident, but their opponent—the Portland Trail Blazers—will be shorthanded.
Anthony played on Sunday just hours after learning about Bryant’s death, scoring 14 points and scooping up eight rebounds in a win over the Indiana Pacers. The former New York Knicks star called it, the “hardest game” he’s ever had to play.
He was in the lineup again on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, but it’s clear that there are different factors in play for Friday’s game.
Charania notes that Melo and Bryant were supposed to have dinner together while the Blazers were in Los Angeles and it was expected that Kobe would be in attendance for Friday’s game.
Melo’s absence is understandable. He and Bryant were extremely close and although they never played together in the NBA, they won two Olympic gold medals together in 2008 and 2012.
Bryant’s heroic effort in the gold medal game against Spain in 2008 is one of the greatest moments of his career and it is often overshadowed by what he did in the NBA. Melo would eventually carve out his own place in Team USA history, becoming the all-time leading scorer for Team USA in the Olympics.