In the team’s first media availability following Kobe Bryant’s death, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel on Wednesday described the difficult task of breaking the news to his players during a flight home from Philadelphia.
“Some of them had heard, had seen the reports. Some had not,” Vogel told reporters. “So it was just a daunting task, which is grabbing these guys one-on-one and letting them know.”
Vogel spoke at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, where the Lakers practiced Wednesday.
He said he wanted the team to come in for some shooting work, “just to get a sweat, touch a ball, to be around each other.”
The coach offered his condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the crash, including Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, who also lost the couple’s 13-year-old daughter. He also described the loss felt by the Lakers organization.
“I’m around the people that were closest to Kobe throughout his time here,” Vogel said. “It’s just been a deeply saddening time for all of us.”
Vogel said he related to Bryant’s close relationship with his family. At the time of his death, Bryant was believed to be heading to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where his daughter Gianna was set to play a game.
He leaves behind three other daughters, who have become familiar to the public during and after his NBA career.
“I love being a coach to the Lakers, but it doesn’t come close to comparing to family time,” Vogel told reporters.
As for the rest of the team’s season, Vogel said: “We want to represent what Kobe was about … more than anything. We’ve always wanted to make him proud.”