Oklahoma City Thunder came out on top against the Los Angeles Clippers 120-108 on Wednesday night, but the Western Conference's third-ranked team had to do it without one of their roster.
As reported by the Associated Press, shooting guard Dion Waiters was granted a leave of absence by the Thunder after the tragic death of his brother this week.
Waiter's sibling, Demetrius Pinckney, was killed in the families hometown of Philadelphia on Tuesday in what Fox 29, via ESPN, are calling one of "three separate acts of violence" that led to six deaths.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that Pinckney had passed away "after an argument and dirt bike chase." The cause of death, per police reports obtained by the newspaper, was a gunshot wound to the head.
Waiters took to Instagram in the aftermath of his loss earlier this week to pay tribute to his brother.
Thoughts and prayers
The 24-year-old's decision to leave the Thunder before their high-profile game against the Clippers is completely understandable, and, speaking after OKC had grabbed the W, players and staff from the franchise went on record to express their sympathy:
"We feel for Dion, man," said Kevin Durant.
"He's our brother, and it's tough for anyone to go through that, and we have his back on everything. He's got our love and support throughout it all, and he knows we're here for him."
Oklahoma's General Manager Sam Presti, meanwhile, said the franchise had Waiters and his family "in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
It is unclear at this stage exactly how long Waiters will be away from the team but, considering the circumstances, the former fourth overall pick is likely to be given as much time as he needs before returning to the fold.
The death of one of their player's brothers comes as the Thunder continue to deal with two other tragedies to strike the franchise in recent weeks.
Their part-owner, Aubrey McClendon, lost his life in a car crash in the city last week while Ingrid Williams, the wife of their assistant coach Monty, also passed away in February. She was the victim of a car accident.
Speaking on the difficulties the Thunder have had to endure away from the court, Durant added that all three incidents have seen the team rally together to support those affected:
"Definitely unfortunate to go through it, but the only thing we can do is continue to stick together as an organization, as a family and help everyone through this.
"That's what brings everyone together. It's definitely tough for all three families, but they have our support and our love."News Now - Sport News