'He was with me': NBA star posts eerie stat line in perfect tribute to Kobe Bryant

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, whether he realised or not, has paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant with an absurd box score befitting the NBA legend.

Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash on Monday morning (AEST).

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Up against the Washington Wizards, Young finished with 45 points and 14 assists, taking 24 shots to get there.

The stat line, which Young put up while wearing the number 8 in honour of Bryant, was the first time any player at scored a 45-point double-double against the Wizards since Bryant himself, back in 2006.

With the number 8 on his back, Young fittingly needed only 24 shots for his 40-ball - the other number Bryant wore in his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young's game did all the talking as he sought to pay tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who tragically died along with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash on January 26. Pictures: Getty Images

“Can’t make this up...he was with me tonight,” Young wrote on Twitter after the game.

The Hawks star, recently voted in as an All-Star starter, was one of many NBA players to pay tribute to Bryant during the day’s games.

Young’s stat line, when combined with that of fellow Phoenix young gun Devin Booker’s, made for eerie reading.

Both players took 24 shots each, and combined for 81 points - the career-high mark Bryant set against the Toronto Raptors in January, 2006.

Players in tears during 'incredible' in-game tributes

Sunday’s game between the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs went on as scheduled despite the league-wide mourning, and the players involved found a way to honour the memory of Bryant after the opening tip.

Following a moment of silence from the arena presentation, players from both teams stood still and allowed the 24-second shot clock expire on their opening possessions after the tip-off, a nod to Bryant’s number 24 jersey.

The rest of the league did the same in subsequent games.

The sombre mood of the opening possessions likely reflected those of the players involved, many of whom shared personal connections to Bryant, as he served for 20 years as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers and basketball in California.

A number of players were seen in tears on and off the court.

Spurs star and Compton, California native DeMar DeRozan had signature sneakers as part of Bryant’s Nike shoe line.

Likewise, Raptors guard and San Diego California native Norm Powell is also famously influenced by Kobe, donning Bryant’s signature number 24 on his jersey.