At least two sportsbook operators-Las Vegas Circas Sports and Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino, N.J. – ceased betting on Sunday’s NBA slate after Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died.
Bryant, 41, died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., a suburb of the San Fernando Valley. The NBA’s fourth-leading all-time scorer, a five-time champion with one of the most storied franchises in sports, and his 13-year-old daughter Giana were among nine who died in the accident. He leaves behind his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant; and three daughters.
The news–originally reported by TMZ Sunday morning–caused a maelstrom of speculation and sorrow on social media as it took some time to confirm that Bryant was onboard the SikorskyS-76 helicopter for the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
When it became clear that among those who died in the crash were the 18-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP, some sportsbooks said no more bets on the games of the league would be taken today.
For everyone asking, yes, our NBA betting menu is closed for the remainder of the day and will reopen tomorrow at 8am.
— Circa Sports (@CircaSports) January 26, 2020
Circa operates the sportsbook at the Golden Gate and the D, two Las Vegas venues.
Shortly after Circa’s tweet a similar move was announced by Resorts Casino.
Due to the unfortunate loss of NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, we are paying our respects by closing all NBA markets for the evening – we will reopen these markets at 9am tomorrow morning.
— ResortsCasino Online (@ResortsCasinoNJ) January 26, 2020
Bryant had played with the Lakers all of his 20-year career, retiring in 2016. Many of the current players in the league either squared off against the guard known as the “Black Mamba” or grew up when he dominated the NBA during a time.
Because of those emotional ties, some professional betters predicted that many of the Sunday games on the association’s schedule would go below the total.
Shortly after the news of Bryant’s death emerged, speculation swirled that the NBA would move Sunday’s games to another time, postponing them to memorialise the icon, although Commissioner Adam Silver said that no competitions would be scrapped.
“He will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability,” said Silver in a statement. “He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Giana.”
Although games were not delayed, through writing messages on their socks, some players found ways to remember Bryant. Earlier Sunday, in the San Antonio Spurs / Toronto Raptors tilt, the teams agreed before the game that the opening tip winner (Toronto) will run the 24-second shot clock down without shooting to memorise the Lakers star who wore the number 24 for part of his careers.