Between the tears and laughs, Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma scanned the room.
Auriemma stood on stage to commemorate Kobe and Gianna Bryant, who were among the nine people that died in a helicopter crash nearly a month ago. So after speaking for almost 10 minutes, Auriemma could not help but notice all who listened attentively.
“An incredible amount of talent in this room,” Auriemma said. “Maybe the greatest collection of talent that I’ve ever been around."
Maybe the greatest collection of basketball talent ever. Monday's memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Staples Center was a who's who of the basketball universe.
After Vanessa Bryant spoke emotionally about her late husband and 13-year-old daughter, the speakers included a WNBA MVP and three-time champion (Diana Taurasi), the top current college woman’s basketball player (Sabrina Ionescu), a six-time NBA champion (Michael Jordan) and a former four-time NBA champion (Shaquille O’Neal).
Who else was in the crowd?
Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, former Spurs player Tim Duncan, former Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade, former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, former Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce, former NBA player Caron Butler, Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.