Detroit Pistons share stories of Kobe Bryant, honor him with shoes, jerseys and more

The Detroit Pistons honored Kobe Bryant in many ways, including these special jerseys. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Detroit Pistons honored Kobe Bryant in many ways, including these special jerseys. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Kobe Bryant’s death has shaken the basketball world. Here’s how the Detroit Pistons honored the legend with tributes, stories, threads and more.

Kobe Bryant‘s tragic death on Sunday has opened up conversations from players, executives, reporters and fans, and it’s been no different for the Detroit Pistons.

With the Pistons hosting the Cavaliers on Monday, it allowed the media to meet with Pistons players and some great stories were shared. Though the Pistons didn’t play that ‘Mamba Mentality’ in a 115-100 loss, sparking a great comment from coach Dwane Casey.

"“Kobe, rest his soul…he would be embarrassed by our non-compete level tonight,” he said."

The rest of this story will share quotes from media sessions and plenty of photos and videos from Little Caesars Arena as the Pistons honored Bryant in a variety of ways.

Pistons wear special jerseys

Prior to the game, the Pistons broke out specially-created uniforms using last year’s city edition uniforms. The threads either had an 8 — representing his time with the Lakers from 1996-2007 — or a 24 — representing his time from 2007-16.

The black ‘Motor City’ jerseys with grey stripes, similar to this year’s ‘Motor City’ edition jerseys, weren’t to mourn the passing of Bryant but instead for his “Mamba Mentality,” equipment manager John “Kong” Coumoundourus told The Athletic.

It was an idea that was thought of shortly before Pistons shootaround, pitched to the front office and players, then put in motion. There were no leaks of what was happenings and the Pistons showcased the jerseys in unison during the pregame tribute.

"“We wanted them to be presented how they were presented,” Coumoundouros said. “We wanted to have the team show them at once and have this moment together. Nothing before or after. This is us doing it.“We wanted that picture and video of the entire team. We wanted everyone together. With George talking, with the highlight video. It was everybody together.”"

Pistons’ team statement

On Sunday, hours after Bryant’s death, the Pistons issued the following statement.

"“The Detroit Pistons organization joins the entire NBA family in expressing our sorrow regarding the unexpected passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and the other victims of today’s tragedy.  Kobe entertained and embraced fans in every arena he touched, and he will be remembered by Detroit Pistons’ fans for the memorable moments he delivered each year at The Palace throughout his 20-year NBA career as well as his lasting impact on the game of basketball both on and off the court.  We extend our thoughts and condolences to the Bryant family, the Los Angeles Lakers organization and everyone in the NBA during this most difficult time.”"

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Vice Chairman Arn Tellem with a personal statement

Tellem was Bryant’s agent and established a relationship with him during his high school years in Pennsylvania. Tellem issued the following statement.

"“Kobe Bryant was far and away the greatest athlete I had the privilege of representing during my 35 years as a player agent. And I represented many great athletes.  I’ve known Kobe since he was a 17-year-old senior at Lower Merion High on Philadelphia’s Main Line. He had a fearsome intellectual curiosity and his enthusiasm was contagious. The glint in his eyes wasn’t just joy: It was sparks from a fire that couldn’t be tamped down. To him, anything less than the best was failure. He deeply loved his wife Vanessa and the family they created, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri. He cherished his daughters and they were always his top priority.  Losing Gianna makes this even more tragic.  Kobe’s death is especially wrenching knowing what he was capable of, and what he might have accomplished in his post NBA life.  He was already well his way, continuing to have such an impactful life.  My deepest condolences to Vanessa, her daughters, his parents Pam and Joe Bryant and to the entire Bryant family.”"

Pistons players honor Bryant

Many players took to Twitter and other social media platforms to pay their respects to Kobe.

Andre Drummond shared a photo of the two together at the All-Star Game in the 2015-16 season, Kobe’s last.

Blake Griffin shared the city of Los Angeles with Bryant for several seasons.

Langston Galloway also took to Instagram to share a photo of him guarding Bryant as a member of the New York Knicks within the first two seasons of his career.

Pistons rookie Sekou Doumbouya grew up in France. Bryant left an impact on his life as an international star from his time in Italy, relationship with China and beyond. The 19-year-old rookie took to Instagram, sharing a photo of Bryant.

Pistons wing Louis King is on a two-way contract but Bryant clearly had an impact on his life. King changed his profile picture on Instagram to Kobe’s No. 24 and posted this honor.

Gameday stories

As usual, players and coaches met with the media during shootaround and Casey with the media before the game. One of the best lines from the media availability was about Bryant’s legacy.

"“If you inspire one person, you’ve lived a positive and successful life — he inspired millions,” Griffin said."

As previously mentioned, Griffin shared Los Angeles and the Staples Center with Bryant. Griffin grew up in Bryant’s shadows with L.A. being a Lakers town. But the two shared a medical facility, which Griffin didn’t realize when Bryant first walked in. It led to a teary-eyed Griffin sharing that story in full.

When Reggie Jackson was in Oklahoma City, he played against Bryant and noticed he wasn’t scoring. Going into the fourth quarter he mentioned something, Kobe heard it and went off to force overtime.

Casey spoke with the media before the game and offered up his perspective on it with a memorable line: “Tomorrow isn’t promised to anybody.”

Pistons pregame/gameday tributes

Players entered the arena wearing purple and gold, some in Bryant’s famous Lakers jerseys.

The Pistons did a pregame tribute that began with John Mason’s introduction of Kobe in his final game in the Motor City on Dec. 5, 2015. Then, Pistons play-by-play voice, George Blaha, shared a few words before 24 seconds of silence in Little Caesars Arena.

During morning shootaround, the clock was stopped at 2.4 seconds.

The clock was stopped inside the arena at 24.8 in honor of both of Bryant’s numbers before the game.

Even members of the media got involved by wearing purple and gold, Kobe’s shoes and shirts with his image on them.

As has become fashionable across the NBA — and the Pistons are no exception — several players wore special shoes for the game or wrote messages on them.

Galloway is one player that has been known for his shoe game.

Christian Wood also had special shoes on.

Jackson warmed up in purple and gold shoes.

Markieff Morris wrote on his shoes.

Little Caesars Arena itself was lit up purple and gold for Bryant.

Try to fight back the tears

Lastly, the Pistons had a special tribute that aired on Fox Sports Detroit prior to the game, narrated by Blaha, who called most of Bryant’s meetings with the Pistons. The video shares moments of Bryant’s career and reaction from players and fans from Sunday’s games.

The Cavaliers won the opening tip and took a 24-second shot clock violation. The Pistons took possession and took and 8-second backcourt violation. They honor the two numbers Bryant wore as a member of the Lakers, which was noted by Mason.

Kobe Bryant had a profound impact on the game of basketball. He lived life to the fullest, giving his all every day. As Griffin said on Monday, Bryant impacted the lives of millions.

His game on the court will be missed. Here’s my favorite quote from Bryant.

“You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep rolling.”

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