Shams Charania of Stadium noted that Melo had planned to have dinner with Bryant in L.A. on Thursday night and Bryant was planning to attend the game at Staples Center as well:
NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports Carmelo Anthony will not play Friday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles “because of his continued grieving and emotions over the loss of Kobe Bryant on Sunday.” pic.twitter.com/jrPdl8RQN5
— Stadium (@Stadium) January 31, 2020
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who tragically died in a helicopter crash Sunday. Bryant was 41.
While Anthony played on both Sunday and Wednesday, Charania reported that the grief Melo is feeling is too great to play against Bryant’s former team in the building that became synonymous with him.
Anthony and Bryant were close friends, and Melo posted a lengthy message about what Kobe meant to him Wednesday on Instagram:
“[…] YOU just called me and told me you were coming to the game Friday and that you were proud of me and ‘regardless of anything, stay true to myself and STAYME7O.’ We were just laughing about how hard YOU was working GiGi and her teammates and I told YOU they need a day off. This pain is almost unbearable Champ! Why you bro? Why GiGi? Why leave Vanessa with this Sadness and Pain. WHY? This will never make sense to me. I know I’m not suppose to question GODs Will. I know GOD doesn’t make mistakes. It just seems like It always rains the hardest on those who deserve the sun. There are moments in life when there’s simply NO words to describe the pain within. This is one of them. YOU will continue to be Loved. YOU will be missed. YOU will forever be remembered. YOUR legacy will live on FOREVER. OUR FRIENDSHIP will never be forgotten. I know YOU will be near, Even if I don’t see YOU. PEACE KING!!! ‘There Are No Goodbyes. Where Ever You’ll be, You’ll be in Our Hearts.’ All Praise Due.”
While Anthony and Bryant were never teammates in the NBA, they did get the opportunity to play together in 2008 and 2012 on the United States Olympic team.
Anthony and Bryant were key players on those squads and they played a huge role in Team USA winning gold on both occasions.
Like Bryant, Anthony is one of the best scorers of his generation, and he continues to be a productive NBA player even at the age of 35.
Melo spent most of last season as a free agent and went unsigned into this season, but he finally caught on with the Blazers and has been a quality tertiary scoring option behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, averaging 15.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Friday marks the Lakers’ first game since Kobe’s death, as Tuesday’s scheduled meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers was postponed to allow the team more time to grieve.
Friday’s game is also the Blazers’ final scheduled visit to Staples Center this regular season, although it is possible Portland could meet the Lakers or Clippers during the playoffs.