The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant at the start of their NBA matchup.

Both teams took turns incurring 24-second violations to start their game to honour the memory of Bryant, who wore the number 24 during his playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Police said nine people died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasis, California this morning. The chopper burst into flames as it hit the ground.

Bryant, who was a father-of-four, and his daughter Gigi, 13, was among those killed in the crash, TMZ reports.

Kobe Bryant. Photo / AP
Kobe Bryant. Photo / AP

Despite the tragic news, so far the NBA's slate of games is continuing as planned but with added emotional weight from the loss of one of the sport's legends.

Other NBA games also paid similar tributes to Bryant.

Shortly after reports of the crash emerged, tributes poured in from the basketball community on social media.

Bryant was 41.