It was both unbelievable and devastating when news broke that 41-year-old basketball phenom Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter accident this past Sunday. That his daughter Gigi was on board, along with seven others, made it even more tragic. NBA 2K20 players and developers are honoring the basketball legend in a truly touching way, one that managed to bring a genuine smile to my face after a day of feeling incredibly down.
First, 2K games dropped a large banner into the game's home screen. When you boot up NBA 2K, you're greeted with a simple black and white photo of Bryant with "1978 - 2020" emblazoned below his name. The official NBA2K Twitter account (opens in new tab) also shared an image of Bryant.
Then, in the Neighborhood, the public area where you can play pick-up basketball games with your avatar, players amassed there donning Bryant's Lakers jersey and other LA gear. Some players even custom-made Bryant shirts to wear in the Neighborhood. Twitter user @beeniicole shared a video of players walking around a court, clapping and throwing up signs honoring him.
RIP to a Legend. Thank you for your many contributions on and off the court. You are greatly missed pic.twitter.com/XesYS63UhpJanuary 26, 2020
My bro sent me this video of players paying their respects for Kobe on 2k pic.twitter.com/HaHU1wRhKOJanuary 26, 2020
Players are also purposefully taking 24-second long shot clock violations in online games, as shared by Twitter user @shaitime2 (opens in new tab). Bryant wore two different jersey numbers during his tenure as a Laker: 8 and 24. Professional NBA players were also taking 24-second long shot clock violations in the games they played last night, many of which were incredibly somber experiences that fans and reporters alike believe should have been cancelled.
Someone online just took a 24 second violation against me in 2K💙 pic.twitter.com/GlN0AoljJoJanuary 27, 2020
The legacy of Kobe Bryant as a basketball player is untouchable, and while there is a valid and necessary discussion that must be had regarding his personal life and the sexual assault allegations he faced in the early 2000s, it is certainly touching to see his hoops legacy honored in NBA 2K20. There were also eight other people that lost their lives in this tragedy, including his young daughter, who was well on her way to becoming a professional WNBA player. In his post-NBA life, Kobe was a champion of women's sports (including the US Women's National soccer team), a supporter of current NBA players, and an Oscar winner for Dear Basketball.
It's nice to see video games being used to spread some much-needed love.
If you're interested, here's the NBA 2K20 player ratings (opens in new tab).