AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThose extremes, and all that lies between, will be a significant factor tonight as the Lakers return to the basketball court in what is likely to be one of the most difficult games any of them have ever had to prepare for.We know there will be tributes at Staples Center. The Lakers have already set out jerseys with No. 8 and No. 24 on them. We know the coaching staff will be wearing Kobe Bryant’s signature sneakers. We know LeBron James and Anthony Davis have each gotten tattoos on their thighs honoring Kobe. Beyond that, the Lakers are keeping a lot of their tributes under wraps. And it’s even harder to predict what influence the sorrow of losing Kobe, Gianna and seven other victims in Sunday’s tragic crash will have on the game.Within the organization, there’s a long list of people who feel that closely. From players like James and Davis, to assistants who were close with Kobe such as Mike Penberthy and Phil Handy, to front office staffers including Rob Pelinka, who called Kobe his best friend. The team’s approach has been to try to attack the challenge of the game, and remember how Kobe would have approached it.“We’re all feeling it,” Vogel said. “It’s a tough time for all of us. We’re going to go out and play each game embodying what he stood for. Focusing on the work, and letting the achievements come after.”This season, for all intents and purposes, is now the Season of Kobe. That’s going to be reflected throughout the NBA, where Kobe tributes – especially the 24-second clock violations and 8-second backcourt violations to open games – have been ubiquitous. That will continue at the All-Star Game in Chicago: The NBA announced Friday that Team LeBron will wear No. 2 (honoring Gianna Bryant) while Team Antetokounmpo will wear No. 24 (honoring Kobe). Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Editor’s note: This is the Friday, Jan. 31 edition of the Purple & Bold newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.“There’s no wrong emotion when it comes to this.”It was advice: Coach Frank Vogel has said this to his team. But it’s something for all of us to remember during one of the most challenging weeks in Lakers history.Grief is an unpredictable and malleable force. It knocks us down, leaves us out of breath. There are also occasional moments when it allows us to soar above, grateful for what we still have even as we mourn. That will be an exponential factor for the Lakers. Many fans will be expecting, whether it’s fair or not, the Lakers to win a championship in Kobe’s honor.Vogel tried to say his team will be dedicating their approach to him, not the results of the season. But that probably doesn’t reflect the reality that many fans expect more. Certainly, players like James, who once had the pressure to lead his hometown franchise to the promised land on his back, are used to that kind of high bar. It’ll be a test for the rest of the locker room to deal with the emotions and pressure of a season charged by the death of a beloved star.But these things are down the road. The Lakers on Friday night are just trying to play. That in and of itself feels like progress after a devastating week.“I think this whole week has been really good for our group to just pull through it together and heal together and I think tonight’s game will be just the next step and the next extension of that,” Vogel said. “So I think we’re all looking forward to getting back out there and playing.”— Kyle GoonEditor’s note: Thanks for reading the Purple & Bold newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.Additional coverageAll of the Southern California News Group’s extensive Kobecoverage – For links to photos, news stories, columns, features and more, start here.Preparing to get back on the court – A window into how the Lakers were trying to lighten their spirits ahead of Friday’s game.“An amputation of part of my soul” – Rob Pelinka issued a statement about losing his goddaughter and his best friend.Finding strength – Jeanie Buss had a social media post talking about when Kobe and GiGi had helped her through a tough time.“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain” – Words from Vanessa Bryant.First day back – Frank Vogel tried to express how the Lakers were dealing with returning to work after Kobe’s death.A nod from a rival – The Clippers paid homage to Kobe with a pregame video narrated by Paul George.All-Star format change – Aside from the jerseys honoring Kobe and Gianna, the game itself will pay tribute to the Black Mamba.Kings pay tribute – Another Staples tenant, the L.A. Kings, also had tributes to Kobe.Kawhi’s connection – Kawhi Leonard and Kobe shared a helicopter pilot.