Lakers return to practice; coach says team wants to make Kobe proud
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the practice Court on Wednesday for the first time since Sunday's helicopter crash that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant and eight others, with head coach Frank Vogel calling the session "therapeutic."
"I think it's therapeutic, anytime you can get out and take your mind off something like this," he said.
As he spoke to reporters after the practice session, Vogel was still visibly shaken by Bryant's death, declining to answer questions about what he'd like to say to Bryant or what his favorite memory of the Laker legend is.
"Some questions I'm just not going to be able to answer right now," he said.
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Vogel said Wednesday's practice wasn't a particularly difficult one, just an effort to slowly get the team back in a basketball mindset.
"We did some things that we thought would be therapeutically beneficial," he said. "We got in the gym for some team shooting work, no real practice working on anything in particular.
I wanted our guys to come in mentally free, but to get a sweat, touch the ball and be around one another. And then we had a lunch where we all just spent time together."
He said the team wants to live up to Bryant's legacy, saying, "We want to represent what he stood for."
"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."
Coping with Bryant's death has "just strengthened what we've felt all year about our current group, which is we've become a family in a very short time," he said.
"It's something you talk about in the NBA with your teams, but this group in particular has really grown to love each other very rapidly, and we understand the importance and opportunity we have this year," Vogel said.
"This has just brought us closer together."
He said Bryant's close connection with his daughters hits close to home -- as the father of two daughters himself.
"You connect with that," he said. "You feel it because it's what your life is about. Him being a father to daughters and him being involved in their sports was the most enjoyable thing in his life, from my observations.
And it's the most enjoyable thing in my life. I love being the coach of the Lakers, but it doesn't come close to comparing to my family time. So it's very relatable.