NBA names All-Star MVP award in honor of Kobe Bryant
By Agence France-Presse
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Saturday that the All-Star Game MVP award will now be called the Kobe Bryant Award as players lined up to pay tribute to the late NBA icon.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces NBA All-Star Game MVP Trophy will honor Kobe Bryant during NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm as part of 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 15, 2020 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Jeff Haynes / NBAE via Getty Images / AFP)
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA all-star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” Silver said. “He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world.”
Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, were buried in a private funeral service in southern California last week after they were among nine people who perished in a horrific helicopter crash on January 26.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces NBA All-Star Game MVP Trophy will honor Kobe Bryant during NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm as part of 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 15, 2020 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Jeff Haynes
/ NBAE via Getty Images / AFP)
The uniforms for Sunday’s all-star game in Chicago will also honor Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter with LeBron James’ team wearing the No. 2 for the basketball-playing Gigi and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team wearing No. 24 in a tribute to Bryant.
NBA All Star 2020 jerseys (Photo from Nike Basketball’s official Twitter account)
Antetokounmpo was one of several all-stars who also spoke Saturday about their memories and the legacy that Bryant left behind.
“The format is amazing,” Antetokounmpo said. “It makes you want to play hard and compete against one another. Each quarter you have the opportunity to win, and it makes it way more competitive.
“But wearing 24 and LeBron wearing number two, it’s a big honor. I wouldn’t want it any other way representing Kobe and Gigi in tomorrow night’s game.”
Antetokounmpo described the four-time All-Star Game MVP Bryant as the “Michael Jordan of our generation.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks speaks to the media during 2020 NBA All-Star – Practice & Media Day at Wintrust Arena on February 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images / AFP)
“A guy that mentored me in the last few years of my career, a guy that was always there for me,” Antetokounmpo said. “In the regular season, the playoffs, a guy that told me that whenever I need something, I could just reach out to him, and he was literally?always there. If I needed something, he would text me back, call me.
“Growing up, he was my idol. He was one of those guys that gave back to the game so much, gave back to the players. A lot of people when they’re so great, they don’t do that.”
Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker said this is an emotional time for the NBA family not only because of the death of Bryant, but also former commissioner David Stern, who passed away on New Year’s Day.
Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics speaks to the media during 2020 NBA All-Star – Practice & Media Day at Wintrust Arena on February 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Dylan Buell / Getty images / AFP)
“With the tragic death of Kobe and Gigi and the rest of the families on the plane and David Stern, it’s definitely going to be a very emotional weekend, and we’re going to celebrate those guys and everyone else as best as we can,” said Walker.
“They meant so much to our game. They grew the game so much. We all just have a lot of respect for them.”
A public memorial service for Bryant will be held February 24 at Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles.
Tags: 2020 NBA All-Star, Adam Silver, Gianna Bryant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kemba Walker, Kobe Bryant Award, LeBron James, NBA All-Star, Team Giannis, Team LeBron