Game 292: January 31, 2020the Initials Game

© USA TODAY USA TODAYThe Los Angeles Lakers will return to Staples Center on Friday night to play their first game since NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others lost their lives in a tragic helicopter accident last weekend. The Lakers were scheduled to play against the Clippers on Tuesday, but that game was postponed as team members and fans grieved in the aftermath of the accident.

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020 The Lakers have also tweeted a logo containing a circle with the initials KB, located on the court just outside the playing field. The 2020-21 Ohio State men’s basketball season will feature a 20-game Big Ten schedule, which begins on Wednesday, Dec. 16, when the Buckeyes travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, to face Purdue.The league schedule was announced this evening and, coupled with the Buckeyes’ five non-conference games, gives Ohio State 25 games on its 2020-21 slate.Th.

Thousands of Lakers fans have gathered outside of Staples Center this week, and many have left flowers, signs and jerseys in tribute to Bryant. On Friday night, the Lakers are giving Bryant shirts to everyone who attends the game, with half of the arena receiving Bryant's No. 8, and the other half receiving No. 24.

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The Lakers' court will also have an updated look. In photos shared on Twitter, the Lakers revealed that Bryant's two retired numbers have been placed along the sideline.

- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020

Beside the baseline, the Lakers have added a circle with Bryant's initials 'KB.'

The House That Kobe Built pic.twitter.com/1exfvaXnE8

Games

- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020

The same circle has been added to the Lakers' uniforms.

2 ♾ 8 pic.twitter.com/DeKsRqcTry

- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020

On Friday, the NBA and NBPA announced a joint donation of $100,000 to a fund that will aid the families of the crash victims.

To support the families who lost their loved ones and to honor the legacy of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, @TheNBPA and NBA are making a joint $100K donation to the MambaOnThree Fund https://t.co/15B7OkTzr5.

- NBA (@NBA) January 31, 2020

The Blazers-Lakers game will begin at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Game 292: January 31 2020 The Initials Game On

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Related slideshow: Sports stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant (provided by photo services)

January© ShutterstockGame 292: January 31, 2020the Initials Game

UPDATE: The Lakers team came out for warm-ups all wearing jerseys with the number 8 or 24. A darkened arena saw two musical tributes, including a version of “Amazing Grace” by Usher and a video montage to a cello solo by Ben Hong.

Game 292: January 31 2020 The Initials Games

The Lakers also paid tribute to the other eight crash victims with a moment of silence, asking fans to remove their hats during a 24.2 second period. Following that, Boyz II Men performed the National Anthem. At the end of the song, LeBron James was shown in tears. He then addressed the crowd, starting by naming all the lives lost in the crash.

James, who unveiled a new tattoo of the Black Mamba earlier today, declined to read prepared remarks. “We’re all hurt, we’re all heartbroken. But when you’re going through something like this, the best thing you can do is lean on your family.” He saluted Laker Nation. “This is truly a family.” He added that tonight is a “celebration of the blood, the sweat, the tears” that embodied Kobe Bryant’s drive toward greatness. “In the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother.”

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2020

During the Lakers team introductions, all of the team members were announced as “No 24, from Lower Merion High School,” Kobe Bryant’s introduction. The opening tap resulted in a 24-second violation, as James dribbled out the block in tribute, as many NBA teams have done. Portland also returned the favor, taking an 8-second backcourt violation to return the ball to the Lakers.

EARLIER: One of the toughest weeks in Los Angeles Lakers history climaxes tonight with the team’s first game since the death of all-time great Kobe Bryant.

Although tonight’s game at Staples Center is not the official public memorial – that’s still in the planning stages – it will be viewed as a significant moment in the grieving process for the team and its fans. A game scheduled for Tuesday against the LA Clippers was postponed, and the team has held a memorial luncheon in the days following Bryant’s death.

Tonight’s game will be televised by ESPN, with pre-game starting at 5 PM. The pre-game will also remember the others who were killed along with Bryant in the fatal helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, Calif.

Photos of the Staples Center on Twitter show each seat at the arena drapped with a yellow t-shirt with the team’s colors and No. 8 or No. 24, both worn by Bryant during his 20-year career with the team. Both numbers are now retired by the Lakers. Two seats were left empty and sans t-shirts, presumably as a tribute to Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who also perished in the crash.

“We’ve been through our ups and been through our downs. I think the most important part is that we all stayed together throughout.” pic.twitter.com/AJDrr1WDIT

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020

The Lakers have also tweeted a logo containing a circle with the initials KB, located on the court just outside the playing field. There is a white star on the “K” in Kobe and the tweet is captioned, “The House That Kobe Built.”

The House That Kobe Built pic.twitter.com/1exfvaXnE8

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 31, 2020

Fans were advised not to come down to the Staples Center, as the game will not be shown on the big screens outside the arena. However, a large contingent ignored the request.

A large memorial has taken shape, as fans leave flowers, candles, jerseys, stuffed animals, balloons, basketballs and other tributes. Fans have been urged to stay home and watch the game with loved ones.

The pile of tributes will stay up until Monday. All of the left items will be cataloged and given to Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, and her daughters. Perishables like flowers will be ground into mulch and spread throughout the planters in the Staples Center and nearby L.A. Live.

Signs will be placed outside the arena as of Monday asking fans to no longer leave tributes. Fans will instead be encouraged to donate to MambaSportsFoundation.org and MambaOnThree.org, two organizations tied to Bryant, whose nickname was the Black Mamba.

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