Widow’s emotional Kobe request
Vanessa Bryant has requested that her family keep all of the fan tributes outside the Staples Center in honour of her husband, LA Lakers icon Kobe, and daughter Gianna, according to a report.
The NBA legend's widow reached out to the Los Angeles arena before it dismantled the massive memorial erected in the wake of the deadly helicopter crash in Calabasas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"Vanessa had reached out to us and said, 'Our family would like the items out there'," Lee Zeidman, president of the Staples Center, told the publication.
Zeidman said the stadium will pack up the thousands of tributes, which include fan art and letters, for the Bryant family.
"So we're going to catalogue every one of them," he said. "By that I mean, T-shirts, letters, basketballs, stuffed animals, toys. We're going to put those in specially made containers and we're going to ship them to the family."
Perishable items, such as flowers, will be composted and spread around the stadium, he said.
"So that means that all those fans that took the time to buy the flowers and plants and brought them down there, some of that will still be around the site," he told the newspaper.
Kobe, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine killed last Monday when the helicopter they were riding in crashed into a mountain.
Meanwhile, the Lakers say they are fully prepared for the steady stream of tributes for Bryant that they will surely see the rest of the season.
LeBron James welcomes it, calling it a therapeutic and part of the Lakers' healing process.
James had another triple-double despite an off-night shooting, Anthony Davis scored 21 points and Los Angeles thumped the Sacramento Kings 129-113 on Sunday - its first win since Bryant's death.
"It's never going to feel normal. It's never going to feel the same," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "But we got our first win since this happened.
"There's going to be a lot of important steps for us along the way and this was definitely one."
James had 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds while helping Los Angeles end a two-game skid. James shot six of 15 and missed three of four three-pointers but made up for it with his 11th triple-double of the season and the 92nd of his career.
The Lakers were playing the second half of a back-to-back, one night after an emotional 127-119 loss to Portland at the Staples Center in their first game since the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, Gianna and seven others.
During the first time-out less than four minutes into the game, a video of both Bryant and Gianna playing basketball was shown on the giant scoreboard as members of both the Lakers and Kings watched. The numbers eight and 24 flashed on the court as Bryant's voice echoed through the building.
Tributes continued to play throughout the game as fans - many wearing Bryant's jerseys - repeatedly chanted his name.
"We're prepared for it. We understand it and we hope it happens every night just because of the legacy that he's left behind," James said.
"We're prepared for it as a team, as an organisation and we're going to continue to get through it. It's our obligation just to go out and play the game, have that winning mentality because that's what he would want."
A memorial wall with pictures of Bryant and Gianna was set up outside one of the main entrances to Golden 1 Center. Fans scrawled messages on the wall and left flowers."
With New York Post, AP