Kobe Bryant dead: Lakers have grown closer together, says coach Vogel

By Sports Desk January 29, 2020

Kobe Bryant's sudden death has only strengthened the Los Angeles Lakers' tight bond, according to head coach Frank Vogel.

Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Vogel said it had been an "extremely emotional" and "deeply saddening" time for everyone involved with the storied franchise, with whom five-time NBA champion Bryant spent his entire 20-year career.

But after returning to training on Wednesday, having postponed their game against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers, Vogel vowed his team would grow more unified.

"I don't think it could break us apart in any way," Vogel said. "It's just a feel thing. You observe those around you, you observe your own feelings and emotions, and you proceed at the right pace at the right time."

"It's just strengthened what we've felt all year about our current group," he continued. 

"We've become a family in a very short time. It's something you talk about in the NBA with the teams, but this group in particular has grown to love each other very rapidly.

"We understand the importance and opportunity we have this year, and this has just brought us closer together."

The league's MVP in 2008 and an All-Star 18 times, Bryant wrote his name into NBA record books during his two decades in Los Angeles.

The Lakers are this season competing for their first championship since 2010 and Vogel said the team intended to do their former superstar justice.

"We want to represent what Kobe was about more than anything," he said.

"We've always wanted to make him proud and that's not going to be any different here. We want to represent what he stood for. That's the most important thing for us."

Los Angeles are due to return to the floor against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Friday.

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