The NBA announced the postponement of Tuesday's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in the wake of the fatal helicopter crash involving Lakers icon Kobe Bryant and eight others.
"The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday," the league said in a press release.
The decision was reportedly made after a day of discussions between the Lakers, Clippers, and NBA, with the input of grief counselors. The game will be made up at a later date, the league said.
Tuesday would have marked the Lakers' first game since Bryant's shocking death in the Sunday crash on a hillside in Calabasas, California.
All eight scheduled NBA games were played on Sunday, all marked by a variety of tributes staged by players and teams. Several teams ran down the 24-second shot in a nod to Bryant's No. 24 jersey, and countless players scribbled his name and numbers on their sneakers. Video tributes were played in the arenas hosting the games.
The timing of the news combined with a 3 p.m. ET tipoff for the early games created a tricky situation for the league, and not all players were pleased with the decision to proceed with the games. Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets declined to play upon learning the tragic news, while the Knicks' Marcus Morris said the games should have been postponed. Thunder guard Chris Paul reportedly sat out Monday's game against the Mavericks to grieve, with the team officially listing him out for personal reasons.
Lakers superstar LeBron James was seen crying after stepping off a flight on Sunday. James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time points list in Saturday night's game against the 76ers, and later reflected on his years-long relationship with Bryant. Bryant congratulated James on passing him in what proved to be his final tweet.
The on-floor rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers--who share not only a city but a home court in the Staples Center--has been rekindled this season, with both teams making drastic moves in the summer to shift the balance of power in the league. The Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, while the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis to pair with James.
The Clippers knocked off the Lakers on Opening Night as part of their hot run to start the season, and did it again on Christmas Day. The Lakers have recovered from those losses, however, and were in first place in the Western Conference entering play on Monday, with the Clippers only percentage points behind the second-place Utah Jazz.
The Lakers' next scheduled game comes against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Friday. The Clippers are set to host the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.