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Sixers vs. Warriors Postgame Quotes: “For his first game back, it was pretty impressive.”

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers

Brett Brown

On the way Joel Embiid played tonight…

Just his presence and his size. His ability to find ways to score. We played him at an elbow, we played him at a post. We put him in some sort of two-man action…For his first game back, it was pretty impressive.

On his thoughts during the pregame ceremony…

Just that it’s surreal. It was incredibly sad. The reality that Kobe has passed gets a little bit more, for me, real. It’s final and the impact that he has had on our game. Really, it’s been interesting for me to see the connection that the basketball fraternity has in an incredibly sad way has been forced to make. Everybody reaches out and there is a connection that you feel as a basketball world. It’s deeper than the NBA. It’s really hard to put into words that environment that we just left.

On Raul Neto playing 15-plus minutes without a break in the first half…

As it was communicated to me, as I’m getting ready to have Ben Simmons come back in and to Ben’s credit as a teammate, he sort of passed on down the bench to one of my assistants, “Let’s let him keep going.” That’s an interesting selfless instruction, so we did it and he rewarded us. I think he had 19 first-half points. It’s not something that you are normally going to do, letting Ben sit there. Raul had played so well, so we decided to roll with it and he certainly justified [it] with his performance that decision.

On what he saw from Shake Milton and Zhaire Smith

Zhaire, who has taken a different path, to now being on an NBA court. Shake, you can tell a similar type of story, but Shake has been with us more than Zhaire. Both of those two young players, I thought, did some good things. Shake was 5-for-6 and Zhaire had some athletic plays…So yes, I thought that those two guys performed well.

Raul Neto

On Ben telling Coach to keep him in the game…

When we see somebody out there playing great, I think we want each other to play good. We want each other to be out there and have good minutes. That’s just the spirit of the team.

On playing against Kobe in his final game…

The way he approached that game, it’s something that I can remember like it was yesterday. I remember his face, the way he loved the game, the way he played that game with so much passion. He showed me the love he had for the game. It’s not like he just said that because he’d say that a lot. But just being there and playing against him, I saw that on his face and felt that energy, so that’s what I took from that game.

On what it took to get focused at the beginning of the game…

I could feel the energy was kind of low at the beginning, but if we take something from that it’s just: enjoy every minute we are here. We never know what the day of tomorrow will bring and that’s what my mindset was. Just being present, just being there.

Joel Embiid

On playing tonight…

Kobe meant something different to me than anybody else. It was tough, but I know, just looking at his career and what he was about, that Mamba Mentality. It was about outworking your opponent, outworking everybody else. I know he would’ve wanted everybody to go out there and compete hard, play the game, and try to win. That’s what he was about. It was tough but that’s how you honor him.

On watching the team play while he was injured….

The past couple of years we struggled without me on the floor and this year it’s been different and I’m excited about it because it’s going to help us in the long run. Especially, in the playoffs.

On earning 24 points and eight defensive rebounds…

That was cool. I didn’t know it was actually 24 points as I shot that fade-away. That was what he was about. I actually yelled “Kobe.” A lot of us, since I started playing basketball, that’s how we’ve always done it. You shoot something in the trash and you just go “Kobe,” so that was cool. For that to be the 24th point and me wearing 24 means a lot.

Golden State Warriors

Steve Kerr

On the pregame ceremony and how it took a while to get into the game…

I thought the pregame commemoration was amazing. I thought the Sixers did a fantastic job of capturing what is such a difficult moment. You want to honor Kobe, his daughter, and all the victims and their families. You want to do it in a respectful way and a professional way, but you still have a basketball game to play, so it’s a very tricky thing to put together. I thought the Sixers handled it beautifully … and when the game started it was surreal … it’s quiet in the area, everybody is sort of in shock, and then once both teams got going it felt like a regular game, but it took a little while.

On his team’s performance…

I thought we played well…D’Angelo [Russell] and Draymond [Green] worked really well together, Marquese [Chriss] played a good game. We made some defensive mistakes in the first half that we cleaned up in the second half and our young guys did a good job. It’s all relative, everything this year. Our success is relative to where we are as an organization and tonight was, I thought, a productive night for us. We played well against a great team in their building. Hung in there, didn’t get the win, but got better as a team.

On how his team is handling Kobe’s passing…

I think, for us, it just felt shocking more than anything … surreal the first two days. Today was the first day that I felt like I could really reflect a little bit and talk about it. We talked as a team this morning, but the last two days I don’t think anybody could even begin to reflect just because of the pain … the pain that we know so many people are dealing with. The families involved and the grieving, it’s just hard to process all of that. A few days out I think we’re able to reflect a little bit and think about Kobe’s career and his life. It doesn’t make it any easier, but we can at least give it some thought.

D’Angelo Russell

On what it was like to play in this game after the two teams honored Kobe…

It was tough, it was tough. At the beginning of the game, it didn’t feel like it was a game. You do a lot of preparation going through a long season and when that preparation is thrown off by something, it affects your play. Throughout the game, a few minutes into it, you start to snap back into it. It was weird.

On how this situation has been for him…

It’s been tough. I’m sure you guys have heard around the league about the impression and the impact that he had on everybody. Everybody is grieving in their own way. For me, it was tough because I used to pick his brain about so many different things…you never expect someone like that to go so early. You expect to see them get old and go that way and just for them to be around the game for way longer than they are. It gives you that impression on how sweet life is and how short it is at the same time. Just cherishing every moment and every relationship that you have. Don’t hold grudges. It was so powerful for the game of basketball, just seeing a guy like that be missed. The crazy part about it is that you are never going to get away from it…Every channel is going to talk about him for years to come.

On what he remembers from Kobe’s final game…

It was magical. L.A. fans are what they are, and they are die-hard Laker fans, so we knew we just had to get him the ball. Just seeing a guy like that go out with 60 points, it gives you the idea that he can keep going…I felt like we were in a movie. I can’t even explain it. It just felt like a movie, just how many times he made shots that you didn’t think he was going to make…just seeing how magical the arena was, the atmosphere was just glowing at the same time. All his peers were there watching, and he left a crazy imprint on the game that I don’t think anyone can really touch.

I remember his speech at the end and the message that he left behind. Him dropping the mic and the way he just walked away from the game, how he gave everything. He appreciated every little part. When you walk away from something so soon, you have regrets…But I think he was so happy to walk away from the game the way that he did that he was almost 100 percent sure that he worked as hard as he could, dissected every piece of film and killed every opponent he could. He didn’t take the game for granted and for a mind to work like that, I think it’s a beautiful thing.

Draymond Green

On how the night went for the team..

Well, the beginning of the game was tough. You start with everything that we did and obviously, we all want to, you know, honor Kobe, and then you go into a basketball game. That’s a switch you can’t flip, where it’s just really emotional. So starting the game was tough, and you know, as the game goes on you just try to lose yourself in the game, which once everyone started to lose themselves in the game, it turned into a real basketball game, but for a while it was tough.

On how his basketball family has helped through this tragedy…

It’s very important. That where, like I said, where we always talk about the brotherhood of the NBA or the relationships you build on your personal team. This is one of those moments where you all can lean on each other. It’s like we’re coming out of our first timeout, and Ben’s like “what’s up man. What’s up, how you doing?,” like tough. I don’t know, it’s just tough. It doesn’t seem right. Everybody’s feeling the same thing so I don’t know. In this locker room, and across the league, everybody can lean on each other because in one way or another, we’re all effected. Whether, it was a personal relationship or not—there’s an era in this league right now or a rule that Kobe was the Michael Jordan of this era. Some guys aren’t old enough to remember Jordan, that do remember Kobe, so that was our Jordan. And I was old enough to carry some of Jordan. It’s just like any “x” amount of years, I’m not sure how but I’m a part of the league today because it’s now starting to get so young. They like worship Lebron, Jordan and Kobe and so it’s—I don’t know—a lot of people lost their hero, somebody they grew up shooting something and saying “Kobe!”. I think any basketball player can relate, you’re walking around and acting like you have a basketball and fading away like Kobe. It’s just, sad. For me personally, it goes even further for me than a personal relationship. Me, when I think about it as a father, the only job as a father is when my children are sick, you’re like this doctor who has no idea what to do. My daughter late last week, late at night she goes, “daddy, my stomach hurts”. I say, “Alright, let’s go lay you down.” So, you lay her down and you sooth her and she’s fine and she goes back to sleep and she comes back again in a few hours, “daddy my stomach hurts.” And at that point I just rubbed her stomach and she went to sleep, but it’s one of those things that you just become this doctor. Anything that your child runs into, you become whatever it is that tackles that problem. And so for me as a father, I think about Kobe, in that situation, especially the man that Kobe was—Kobe will try to move a mountain and no one in the world can tell him that he can’t lift that mountain and move it away. You think about him in that situation, which is extremely graphic to think about. He’s right there with his daughter and he’s probably telling her that everything’s ok, but in his mind he knew it was not. As a father you can’t even show your child that you don’t think it’s ok. So for me, I think of that and really believe that in my heart that, I know I was nowhere near that helicopter, but I know how he went up probably squeezing his daughter tight and telling her everything ok. And that crushes me because I understand it. Just being a father and knowing his three girls and his wife, there’s no one there to tell them it’s ok and that’s where it kind of crushes me.

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