The Lakers were heading back to Los Angeles on a flight from Philadelphia after a loss to the 76ers when they heard the news.
Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ head coach, was told about the crash by the director of media relations Alison Bogli, and at first Vogel thought it wasn’t true.
But Vogel eventually received confirmation from the Lakers’ owner and president Jeanie Buss, then he made a swift decision.
“I felt like, as their coach, as their leader, I just instinctually felt like they should hear it from me immediately,” said Vogel.
“So I remove one of my headphones, and I look and Dwight tells me, ‘Man, Kobe died,’” Davis explained. “And me thinking as invincible as Kobe Bryant is I’m like, ‘Kobe who?’ Because I’m like it’s not Kobe Bryant.
“At this time, Bron is still asleep,” Davis continued. “I just like, start shaking Bron, like, ‘Wake up, wake up. By this time all the players have woken up. Everybody’s trying to get to the Internet to get on their phone and see what’s going on.”
Like others on the plane, Davis said James couldn’t believe the news when it was relayed to him.
“I remember the first thing Bron said to me was, ‘Man, y’all stop playing, like, stop playing with me,’” Davis remembered. “And I’m trying to get on the Internet, and Dwight, like, you can see him start crying. He was like, ‘It’s true.’”
Later, James gathered everyone for a team prayer and explained why it was important to do so.
“It was just off the top of my head, just off the cuff,” said James. “I think it was needed for us to come together and just give thanks to the man above.
“Even though at times we question him and question why he do some of the things that he do, know that he’s never made a mistake,” he added. “And just hope that he has his hands on top of Vanessa [Bryant] and the kids at that time, and hope that he continues to watch over all of us.
“So, I don’t know, it wasn’t something I thought about. It was something that just kind of came to me, and I said my piece,” James concluded.