EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With the week steeped in heavy emotions, Frank Vogel and the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching staff tried to lighten everyone's spirits before practice Thursday by taking the team across the street to an outdoor field for a light workout.
As the players enjoyed the sunshine keeping them warm on a late January day in Southern California, the Western Conference's No. 1 basketball team played pickup football for about 10 minutes. LeBron James even wore a pair of cleats designed for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., inspired by James' first signature Nike sneaker.
"One of the luxuries of living in Los Angeles," Vogel said. "It's a beautiful day out. There's always therapeutic benefits to sunshine and being outside in the fresh air."
As James ran post routes, the left leg of his shorts was rolled up, revealing a brand-new tattoo on his upper thigh as a tribute to former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday, along with eight others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Tattoo artist Vanessa Aurelia shared video on Instagram stories Wednesday showing her work on James' left thigh and Anthony Davis' right thigh in what appears to be Black Mamba-inspired ink for the two Lakers stars.
James and Davis have yet to address Bryant's death beyond their Instagram accounts. Vogel has been the lone representative from the Lakers organization to speak to reporters this week.
As the shock of Sunday's helicopter crash starts to subside and the first game the Lakers will play in a world without Bryant draws closer, Vogel said the team is trying to find peace in its preparation.
"The last two days has really been about the work," Vogel said. "Our mindset has just been let's attack the work. This is what we get lost in. This is our mindset from Day 1 of training camp just to stay in the moment and focus on what we can accomplish today. They've had that mindset the last couple days and [it's] been great."
The Lakers will host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday at Staples Center, a night that will serve as a chance for the city of Los Angeles to collectively grieve the loss of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven others who were killed in the crash, as much as it will be about playing a basketball game.