The Rockets honored the memory of Sasha McHale at Tuesday night’s game against Toronto, first with a moment of silence prior to the introduction of the starting lineups and then by wearing a green band on the left shoulder of their jerseys.
Green was the favorite color of the 23-year-old daughter of Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who died on Saturday following a long battle with lupus, an auto-immune disease.
McHale has been on a leave of absence to be with his daughter and his family in Minneapolis since Nov. 10 and this was the first game the Rockets have played since her passing.
Roughly 40 members of the Rockets’ team, coaches and staff were scheduled to fly to Minneapolis to attend the funeral. The team will then travel on later in the day, scheduled to arrive in Oklahoma City at 3:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game against the Thunder.
“We’re trying to support him and be there for him as much as possible,” said guard James Harden. “It means a lot, knowing our schedule, knowing we have a game the same day. Obviously, it doesn’t take away the pain from what he lost. We’re just trying to be there to offer support as much as we can.”
The Raptors took the court knowing that they would be facing an opponent full of emotion.
“I’m just as close to Kevin as anybody with the two years in Minnesota,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “I got to know his family, his wife and Sasha and the rest. Still we have to go out and compete and play with our emotion, play with our edge. You have a sympathetic understanding of what this organization is going through, but at the same time we’ve got work to do in an unfortunate situation for them.
“All you can do is think of the entire McHale family.”