All-Star MVP Award Named in Honor of Kobe Bryant

Reuters
By Reuters
February 16, 2020Sports News
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All-Star MVP Award Named in Honor of Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during the post game news conference with daughters Natalia and Gianna Bryant as he celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 17, 2010. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

CHICAGO—The National Basketball Association All-Star Game MVP Award has been permanently named for the late Kobe Bryant, league Commissioner Adam Silver said on Feb. 15.

Bryant, an 18-time All-Star who won a record-tying four All-Star Game MVP awards, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Jan. 26. He was 41.

“His loss, together with his daughter and those other seven people on the helicopter, is unspeakable,” Silver said at a news conference before the All-Star Saturday Night event at the United Center in Chicago. “As the father of a child … that’s the unimaginable.”

NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver unveils the Kobe Bryant MVP Award at a press conference during NBA All Star Saturday Night at United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Feb 15, 2020. (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

The Kobe Bryant MVP Award will be presented on Sunday to the most valuable player at the end of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” Silver said in a statement. “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 made his NBA All-Star Game debut in 1998 at age 19—the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game. His 18 All-Star selections are the second most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at 19.

Kobe Bryant holding trophies
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds up the Larry O’Brien trophy and the Bill Russell MVP trophy after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena in Orlando, Fla., on June 14, 2009. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Silver said the decision to name the MVP award in honor of Bryant was made collectively by league officials and some players.

“To all of us, it seemed like the appropriate way to bring honor to him,” Silver said.

NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver unveils the Kobe Bryant MVP Award at a press conference during NBA All Star Saturday Night at United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Feb 15, 2020. (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Silver also spoke about the loss of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who oversaw explosive growth in the popularity of the game during his 30-year tenure. Silver said that Stern, who died in January, and Bryant had a lot in common.

“They were both determined to win,” he said. “They could be difficult at times because they prioritized winning, and often, they didn’t have time for some of the niceties around personal relationships because it was about winning.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern
NBA Commissioner David Stern at a news conference following an NBA Board of Governors meeting in Dallas, Texas, in May 15, 2013. (Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo)

Moments after Silver’s news conference ended, the packed United Center stood and cheered as the game clock was wound up to 24.2, in honor of Bryant’s No. 24 jersey number and the No. 2 that Gianna Bryant wore when she played basketball at her father’s Mamba Sports Academy.

Lakers honor Kobe Bryant and Gigi
The Los Angeles Lakers honor Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi by covering the courtside seats they occupied with flowers, Gigi’s #2 Mamba jersey and Kobe’s #24 jersey before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Jan. 31, 2020. (Harry How/Getty Images)

By Brendan O’Brien

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