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LeBron James, Lakers 'celebrate' life of Kobe Bryant ahead of 1st game back – CBC.ca

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Red roses adorned the courtside seats where Kobe and Gianna Bryant sat at the last Los Angeles Lakers game they attended. On the overhead video board, photos of Bryant in action for the Lakers alternated with those of the other seven people who were killed alongside him and his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash.

Friday night at Staples Center was unlike any other.

Longtime public address announcer Lawrence Tanter introduced the entire Lakers lineup the same way: “From Lower Merion High School, No. 8, Kobe Bryant.”

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In a ceremony before the Lakers’ first game since the crash on Sunday, Usher stood at centre court of the darkened arena in front of No. 8 and No. 24 yellow rose arrangements to sing “Amazing Grace.” Cellist Ben Hong from the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed while video of Bryant talking about his life and career played.

WATCH | Lakers’ video in memory of Kobe Bryant:

The Los Angeles Lakers honoured the victims of the helicopter crash in Calabasas and highlighted the life of Kobe Bryant before standing for a 24.2 second moment of silence. 2:43

Fans interrupted the silence at times with chants of “Kobe!” and “MVP.”

Boyz II Men, from Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia, sang the national anthem.

LeBron James, wearing No. 24, wiped his eyes as the anthem ended. He and Anthony Davis, wearing No. 8, hugged.

The crowd stood for 24.2 seconds of silence as the shot clocks ticked off the time until the horn blared. Spotlights shone on the empty seats set aside for Bryant and his daughter. His had a black-and-white Mamba jersey and hers had a No. 24 jersey.

James stood at centre court and read the names of the nine victims, ending with Bryant. He told the crowd he had remarks prepared and pulled a piece of paper from his sweatpants. But then James tossed it to the floor.

“Laker Nation, I would be selling you short if I read off this shit, so I’m going to go straight from the heart,” he said.

WATCH | Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth perform ‘See You Again:’

Wiz Khalifia and Charlie Puth delivered an emotional performance of their song “See You Again” as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. 3:48

In the couple of hours leading up to the game there was mostly silence in the arena. The electric atmosphere that surges through the arena before NBA games was nowhere to be felt. Media talked quietly among themselves without the usual music playing. Somber ushers took up their positions with black ribbons attached to their purple work shirts. Grief counselling was offered to arena staff and one female usher pulled tissues out of her pocket that had been provided.

Inside the Lakers locker room, Bryant’s No. 24 gold jersey hung on a wooden hanger from a fire alarm next to James’ locker. It was Bryant’s locker when he helped the team win five NBA championships during his 20 years in Los Angeles.

“He’s been really a tower of strength for all of us,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of James. “We’re following his lead.”

Dwight Howard sat at his locker with earbuds in. None of the players spoke before the game.

‘A lot bigger’ than a game

Back in the arena, Jeff Nadal was among the early arriving fans. Nadal rolled up a giveaway No. 24 T-shirt in his hand and rested his chin on it, staring into space.

“It doesn’t really feel like you’re here for a game,” the 26-year-old middle school teacher from Whittier said. “It feels like you’re here for something a lot bigger than that. We didn’t even know the guy, but we feel like we did.”

The music began playing once the public flowed through the doors. Several fans donned the gold T-shirts at their seats; others took pictures of the video board and the electronic ribbon scrolling the victims’ names around the upper level.

“We know it’s going to be a heavy-hearted night,” Vogel said. “It’s our job to manage our emotions and honour Kobe, Gianna and the other victims the right way.”

Across the street from Staples Center, large crowds continued to gather for informal public mourning at a plaza loaded with flowers, balloons and hand-written messages, many on the pavement, honouring Bryant and his daughter.

Large poster boards covered in signatures and messages were moved to the middle of the blocked off street separating the arena and the LA Live entertainment district.

The Lakers will wear a “KB” patch on their jerseys while his retired No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys decorate the court. Fans on one side of the arena will wear shirts with No. 8 while the other side will wear No. 24.

The Lakers asked fans who didn’t have tickets to not linger outside. They also advised that the pregame ceremony would not be shown on outdoor video screens.

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Palestinian flag waved on pitch as Morocco celebrates historic World Cup win

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Several players of Morocco’s national team unfurled a Palestinian flag on the pitch while celebrating their historic World Cup win over Spain in Qatar on Tuesday.

World Cup quarterfinals: Qualifying teams, fixtures and schedule

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Following a dramatic penalty shootout, Morocco became the first Arab side to make it to the World Cup quarterfinals.

This is the second time Moroccan players have raised the Palestinian flag after winning a match. Morocco’s player Jawad El Yamiq raised the Palestinian flag while celebrating his country’s 2-1 victory over Canada last week.

Moroccan football fans were also seen waving a “Free Palestine” banner during the North African country’s 2-0 victory over Belgium in Group E earlier in the tournament.

Morocco's team makes a group photo on the pitch, holding the Palestinian flag after beating Spain.

Regulations from FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, prohibit the use of banners, flags and fliers that are deemed to be political, offensive and/or discriminatory in nature.

“The promotion or announcement of political or religious messages or any other political or religious actions, inside or in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, by any means, is strictly prohibited before, during and after matches,” FIFA regulations state.

Israeli journalists experience chilly reception at Qatar World Cup

 

Football authorities have occasionally issued fines for displays of the Palestinian flag inside grounds.

The flag bearing move was hailed by Arabs on social media, as users from Libya, Morroco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia celebrated the Moroccan win.

Videos on social media also show Palestinians celebrating Morocco’s win in the streets of several cities in the West Bank and in Gaza.

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With CBT 'not an obstacle,' Blue Jays can avoid Judge drama with Guerrero and Bichette – Sportsnet.ca

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Matt Murray Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs Dallas Stars

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DALLAS (AP) — Matt Murray made a season-high 44 saves and Mitch Marner extended his Toronto-record point streak to 20 games with an early assist as the Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 4-0 on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin and Alexander Kerfoot scored for the surging Maple Leafs, who are 9-0-3 in their last 12 games. They pulled within three points of first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division.

Dallas went 0 for 7 on the power play despite 17 shots on goal, including a four-minute double minor and a 5-on-3 for 1:38.

Toronto blocked 27 shots in its first shutout this season, and the Stars missed the net on 22 attempts.

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“Big thanks to the guys in front who did a heck of a job defensively tonight against a really dangerous team,” said Murray, who was acquired from Ottawa last summer and shares time in net with fellow newcomer Ilya Samsonov.

Murray is 6-0-2 since missing 15 games with an adductor injury following his initial start of the season.

“He was perfect,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Came up with huge saves in big moments. Obviously, the number of penalties we took today could have been a big problem.”

The Stars were shut out for the first time this season and are tied with Winnipeg atop the Central Division with 33 points. The Jets have two games in hand.

Jake Oettinger stopped 25 shots.

It was the NHL’s first game featuring two players with point streaks of at least 18 games.

The Stars’ Jason Robertson saw his run end at 18, a Dallas record. Robertson leads the NHL with 23 goals.

Marner got an assist when his wrist shot was stopped but Tavares tapped in the rebound 4:51 in for the first of two first-period Toronto goals.

“Like I’ve been saying, it’s not a one-man effort,” Marner said. “Just trying to go out there and buzz.”

Matthews took possession after his wrist shot was stopped and circled back into the slot to score at 17:36.

Sandin collected a loose puck just outside the crease and scored at 12:19 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.

Kerfoot added an empty-net goal with 3:53 remaining, rolling the puck in from center ice. It was his first goal since a 3-2 overtime win at home over the Stars on Oct. 20.

Toronto played most of the game with only five defensemen. Victor Mete left with a lower-body injury after playing just 3:04 of the first period. Mete is expected to miss at least a few games.

During part of Dallas’ 5-on-3 late in the second, the Maple Leafs were further handcuffed when Marner had to give up a broken stick. He still managed to block a shot.

Maple Leafs forward Semyon Der-Arguchintsev made his NHL debut, playing 7:16.

FAMILY AFFAIR

It was the second and final scheduled meeting this season matching Robertson against his younger brother, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson.

Their mother, Mercedes, traveled from Michigan to attend the game. She followed her custom in these brotherly matchups by wearing the home team’s sweater and the visitors’ cap.

Nick Robertson scored his only two goals of the season to date in the teams’ previous meeting — including the overtime winner.

“He wasn’t too happy about that,” Nick said of his brother when they visited after that game.

POWER OUTAGE

Dallas is 0 for 11 on the power play in its past two games after ranking second in the NHL at 30% going into Sunday’s game, a 6-5 shootout loss to Minnesota.

“We had some great looks,” captain Jamie Benn said of Tuesday’s effort. “We’ve got to find a way.”

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Stars: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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