California, Jan 28 (IANS) The Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers basketball game scheduled for Tuesday at the Staples Centre has been postponed after the death of former Lakers star Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.
“The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organisation, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday,” the National Basketball Association said in a statement, reports Efe news.
The Lakers confirmed the postponement, adding in a statement that “this is a very difficult time for all of us. We continue to support the Bryant family and will share more information as it is available.”
The NBA added that the game, the first to be suspended after the news of the crash, will be played at a later date not yet specified.
Bryant had played his whole career with the Lakers, becoming a five-time NBA champion and double Olympic gold medalist before he retired in 2016. His daughter Gianna was also a talented player.
Tributes have been pouring in from around the world, with past and present US leaders, NBA greats, and the public paying their respects and expressing shock at the accident.
Meanwhile, the US federal and local investigators on Monday began probing the cause of the crash. Thick fog at the time of the accident outside downtown Los Angeles is the main focus of the investigation, according to authorities, who said their final conclusions will be released in the coming months.
The pilot had been given special authorisation to fly in foggy conditions that had grounded Los Angeles Police Department helicopters.
Along with 41-year-old Bryant and one of his daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, also perished in the crash were a baseball coach at Orange Coast College, John Altobelli; his wife, Keri Altobelli; their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, who was on Gianna’s basketball team; a female basketball coach, Christina Mauser; another of Gianna’s teammates, Payton Chester; Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester; and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.