– The Los Angeles Lakers, shattered by the death of franchise icon
Kobe Bryant, are trying to wrench their attention back to their pursuit of an
NBA title, a chase that resumes Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“We’re concentrating on the work,” head coach
Frank Vogel told reporters at the team’s practice facility in suburban El
Segundo. “There’s therapy in the work.”

Before getting down to the most serious work, however, the
Lakers warmed up outside with a little soccer and American football designed to
lighten the atmosphere.

“We are striking a balance of trying to make guys feel
good,” Vogel said. “Laughter is always a good remedy for something
like this when it’s appropriate.

“Today’s workout outside, it’s not the first time we’ve
done that. But it does feel good to be out there.”

The Lakers were on their way home from Philadelphia when
Bryant — who won five NBA titles in a 20-year career with the club — was
killed in a helicopter crash in suburban Calabasas on Sunday.

The 41-year-od was among nine people who died, a group that
included his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, her Mamba Academy basketball
teammates Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, Altobelli’s parents John and
Keri, and Chester’s mother Sarah.

Pilot Ara Zobayan and Christina Mauser, an assistant coach
of the Mamba Academy team, also died.

Lakers superstar LeBron James was among many in the NBA —
and the greater sports world around the globe — to express his anguish at
Bryant’s death on social media.

But James and other Lakers players have yet to speak
publicly about the loss of a player who defined one generation of NBA players
and inspired another.

Bryant’s wife Vanessa broke her silence in an Instagram post
on Wednesday night, saying she was “devastated” by the sudden loss of
her husband and daughter.

“Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to
light the way,” she wrote. “Our love for them is endless — and
that’s to say, immeasurable.”


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