The silence was broken by a string of thunderous "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe," chants from the 21,000-strong crowd that rocked the stadium as they honoured Bryant, who wore the numbers eight and 24 on his jerseys during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The stirring pre-game tribute began with fellow Lakers great Magic Johnson rousing the crowd and paying homage to Bryant, who was killed along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other victims in a helicopter crash in California on January 27.
"We will never see another basketball player quite like Kobe," said Johnson, who noted his work with the Los Angeles community along with the love he had for his family.
"This is a tough time for the whole NBA family."
Johnson also paid tribute to former NBA commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of basketball during his 30-year tenure. Stern died on January 1.
Before tip-off, singer and actor Jennifer Hudson sang a tribute to Kobe with a montage of photos of Bryant and his daughter in the background.
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