Since LeBron James was not shown on the video screen or spotted in television camera shots at the “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” on Monday at Staples Center, the Lakers forward was asked at practice Tuesday if he attended the ceremony.
All of the Lakers supposedly attended the ceremony, as did NBA stars Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Klay Thompson.
NBA Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal spoke.
Other celebrities and basketball luminaries were constantly shown on the overhead screen or were visible when television cameras panned the crowd, but not James.
James was evasive when asked whether he attended the ceremony. He was effusive in his praise of Bryant’s widow, Vanessa
“Like I said, man, it’s just … I respect your question, for sure,” James said at the Lakers’ shoot-around Tuesday. “It was very emotional, very emotional day, very tough day for myself, for my family, for everyone involved.
“The one thing I can come out of this saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa [Bryant] is to stand up there the way she did, to give the speech the way she gave that speech. I commend her. My heart is with her family still, with his three daughters that’s still here, with his wife, with his mom and dad, his sister. It was just a very difficult day. Obviously celebration, but it was a difficult day for all of us. I’d appreciate it if we can move on tonight. That would be great.”
The Lakers play the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Perhaps, James was asked, the Lakers can get back to normal after the Bryant memorial.
“It’s never a closure. It’s never going to be a closure,” he said. “I mean, we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here. So, it’s not a closure. But it was a celebration, which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world.”
Also on Tuesday, the Lakers introduced forward Markieff Morris to the media.
Morris, who became a free agent when the Detroit Pistons bought out his contract last week, signed a contract with the Lakers, who waived center DeMarcus Cousins to make room for Morris.
“I’m just at the point in my career where I’m just trying to win,” Morris said. “I see this team has one goal in mind, and who wouldn’t want to play for the Lakers?”