Trae Young never shared an NBA floor with Kobe Bryant, but the two still managed to build a relationship in Young’s early career. Young happened to be Bryant’s daughter Gianna’s favourite player.
On the day of the helicopter accident that took the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Trae Young came out wearing a No. 8 jersey – Bryant’s former number – rather than his usual No. 11. Tuesday marked one-year of Bryant’s death, and Young found another way to honour the legend.
With two minutes left in the Hawks’ game against the Clippers, he lined up from near the Atlanta logo and converted a sharp three-pointer. Atlanta’s lead increased from eight to eleven on a shot that turned out to be a clincher. Young flashed the numbers two and four, “24,” Bryant’s other jersey number.
The moment came in a game against the Clippers, Bryant’s crosstown rival and the team he almost signed with in 2004. Teammates like Pau Gasol and friends like Kyrie Irving have also been paying their respects to the Laker legend.
“One thing I think about when I think of Kobe is big shots, being able to close out games and hit big shots in big moments,” said Young postgame on throwing up 24 and paying homage to the late megastar. “The thing I take away the most is he stuck to his values throughout everything whether it’s in his playing days or outside of it,” he said on his memories of Bryant.
The 108-99 win is the Hawks’ fourth victory in their last five games and helps them to improve to 9-8 – good for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They suit up in less than 24 hours to host the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.