Publish date:

Wolves pay tribute to Kobe Bryant in 1st game since his death

Bryant, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday near Los Angeles.
Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 7.23.29 PM

In their first game since the tragic, unexpected death of Kobe Bryant, the Timberwolves paid homage to the NBA great before and during Monday night's game against the Sacramento Kings at Target Center. 

"Our hearts and condolences are with their families, of everyone involved in the tragedy," said Karl-Anthony Towns in an address to the crowd before a video tribute was played inside the arena. "Thank you so much for being here with us in the time of all of us mourning as a brotherhood."

To start the game, Wolves guard Andrew Wiggins set the basketball down at the free-throw line and accepted an 8-second violation, honoring the No. 8 Bryant wore for the Lakers. The ball was purposely placed at the free-throw line inside Target Center, precisely wear Bryant made a free throw in a 2014 game to pass Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

Sacramento then took the ball suit by accepting a 24-second shot-clock violation, serving as a tribute to the No. 24 Bryant also wore. 

Additionally, Towns and Robert Covington wore Nos. 24 and 8, respectively, during the pregame tribute. 

Bryant, 41, died Sunday along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, when his private helicopter crashed in foggy conditions in the hills of Calabasas, approximately 30 miles from Los Angeles. 

In 64 career regular-season games against Minnesota, Bryant averaged 24.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists. The memory most diehard Wolves fans will recall, however, is when a 25-year-old Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal ended the best season in Minnesota franchise history when they eliminated the Wolves from the 2003-04 Western Conference Finals in six games. 

Bryant averaged 24.3 points, four rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals in the series to help the Lakers reach the NBA Finals, where they lost in five games to the Detroit Pistons. 

After learning of Bryant's death Sunday, Kevin Garnett paid tribute to his rival and friend on Instagram, writing, "I'M CRUSHED." 

"The news of your passing not only numbed my body, but everyone’s around me," Towns posted to on Instagram. "I grew up idolizing you and wanting to just have the chance to meet you. Never in my wildest dreams, did I think I would not only meet you but compete against you."

Similar sentiments came from Wiggins, who said he grew up admiring Bryant's style of play and felt it was an honor and privilege to "hear the way you spoke about me at a such a young age in my career." 

Next Up

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins makes big donation to Vikings' social justice committee

The committee works on issues such as criminal justice reform, education and voter registration.

Meghan Roth Go Fund Me

Accomplished MN runner goes into cardiac arrest during Boston Marathon

Other racers jumped in to give the 34-year-old mother CPR, saving her life.

Flickr - Winston Smith memorial uptown June 4 - Chad Davis

Review reveals body cam video from aftermath of Winston Smith shooting

While no video of the shooting exists, an officer captured some video immediately afterward.

classroom mask

Parents object to Minneapolis Schools' 14-day COVID exposure quarantines

Other Twin Cities school districts do not have quarantine protocols quite as strict as in Minneapolis.

Pixabay - police lights, tape

Good Samaritan has car stolen while tending to man stabbed in neck

The thief then ran into the good Samaritan while driving off.

Screen Shot 2021-10-13 at 3.17.46 PM

Minnesota family learns their baby has extremely rare, fatal disease

The baby's mother is hoping to provide her son with the best life possible.

unsplash - water close-up

Sheriff: Human jaw bone found near Staples is 'ancient,' not recent

It was one of four bones found by a group of people over the summer.

Fargo sex offender grinder - north dakota site

Police: Armed sex offender wanders into 2 Fargo homes

Nobody was injured and the man was eventually located via a GPS ankle monitor.

Xcel Energy Center

Wild season opener Friday night isn't on regular TV

Friday's game is one of five games that will be streamed this season.

polar bear como zoo

Young polar bear joining the celebration at Como Zoo

The bear is part of a new Burr on Fur program that will help wild polar bears.


Jim Gaffigan, Jeff Foxworthy recording MN shows for Netflix

The streaming giant will film their upcoming performances for future stand-up specials.

Giant Beaver fossil

Minnesotans vote for giant beaver to become official state fossil

The Science Museum held a vote, which the extinct, 200-pound beaver won.


Kobe Bryant

Athletes react with shock to news of Kobe Bryant's death

Multiple outlets have confirmed that Bryant died in a helicopter crash.

Andrew Wiggins

The Wolves' loss to the Kings was historically bad

No team, since 1996-97, had blown a lead that big that late in a game.

Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 8.50.33 AM

5 things to watch for as the Wolves open the season in Brooklyn

Minnesota opens the season at Brooklyn Wednesday night.

Screen Shot 2019-10-23 at 9.26.42 PM

Kyrie Irving scores 50 but Wolves outlast Nets in overtime

Minnesota led by as many as 17 points in the first half.

Sergio Romo

Twins' Romo played for college coach killed in helicopter crash

John Altobelli was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in California.

Karl-Anthony Towns

12 straight losses for the Wolves as trade rumors heat up

Some fresh trade rumors for Wolves fans to digest.

With KG in the crowd, Wolves pound Portland on Prince night

That's three straight wins since trading Jimmy Butler.

Wiggins, Towns rise to the occasion as Wolves hold off Pelicans

The new guys, Robert Covington and Dario Saric, were great.