KEY POINTS

  • Boston Celtics’s flight was pushed back so staff and players can be part of Kobe Bryant memorial
  • The memorial for Kobe and daughter Gianna will take place on February 24, symbolizing their jersey numbers
  • Jayson Tatum is happy to be part of the memorial for his mentor

Two teams may be going up against each other for 48 basketball minutes but after the final buzzer, the Boston Celtics will turn purple and gold.

The Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers will face each other at the eve of the memorial service of the great Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center – given that the date was set on February 24, which also symbolizes the jersey numbers of Gianna (2) and Kobe (24). Per reports from the Boston Globe, the team decided to move their scheduled flight at a later time.

The flight was initially scheduled at around noontime of February 24th but the team decided to have it pushed back for another they so the players and team staff will have the opportunity to pay their final respects for Kobe. “I knew we’d have a number of guys that might want to go to the memorial,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“It’ll be completely up to them, but we wanted to give us that flexibility and that option. Staff and players will all be able to go if they want to,” he added.

The memorial will start at 10 AM but will be shortened to prepare the arena for the game between Memphis Grizzlies and co-tenants Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the players who will have the opportunity to be at the memorial is Celtics’ forward Jayson Tatum, who idolized Kobe growing up. “I’m really glad I’ll have an opportunity to go to the memorial, the 21-year old Tatum said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of people there showing their support, and I’m glad I can be one of them.”

Kobe also was Tatum’s mentor when he emerged as Boston’s rising star after being picked third overall in the 2017 NBA Draft from Duke University. Since then, he was named to the USA Men's Basketball Team that competed in the FIBA World Cup in China last year.