The tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s death rocked the NBA and overshadowed Sunday’s Nets-Knicks game. But should the game have been canceled?
Players and coaches from both teams were shaken upon hearing that Bryant and daughter Gianna had been killed in a helicopter crash. But many had opinions on whether the news coming from Southern California should’ve canceled league games across the country.
This one — played in an eerie, surreal atmosphere at the Garden — ended with a 110-97 Knick win. But even one of the leaders of that victory said it probably should’ve been called before it started.
“A lot of emotion from the guys. Honestly I didn’t think we should have played. But it is what it is,” said Knicks forward Marcus Morris, who had 21 points.
“I’d rather keep my opinion on [them playing] to myself on what I thought about that,” said an emotional Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, seemingly not wanting to talk his way into trouble.
Spencer Dinwiddie admitted when he heard the shocking news, he fully expected the league would call the game off.
“I did. I thought they were going to get canceled,” Dinwiddie said. “But the NBA is a business, and I understand there’s probably logistical issues with clearing arenas and things, so they chose not to. You come to work. We’ve got a job to do. So just like everybody else.”
Garrett Temple, the Players Association vice president, would’ve understood postponements considering Bryant’s importance and stature.
“I’ve been a part of this league long enough to know the business side and how it rolls. There were rumblings of maybe canceling them. But I say yes and no,” Temple said. “The type of person he was and what he meant to this game, meant to this league, it would be very understandable if the games had got canceled.”
Still, players were in a daze.
“We were in a fog. It was like everybody was in a daze. I know I was. You try to listen to the game plan, but obviously got something else weighing on your mind,” Temple said.