NBA Renames All-Star Game MVP Award After Kobe Bryant Following His Death
On Saturday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the All-Star Game MVP Award had been renamed in honor of the athlete, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, won four All-Star MVP Awards throughout his basketball career — in 2002, 2007, 2009 (when he co-won with Shaquille O’Neal) and 2011. Bryant and Bob Pettit are the only two players in NBA history to be named All-Star MVP four times.
“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.”
The newly-renamed Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award will be presented after Sunday night’s All-Star Game, which is being held in Chicago this year. The winner is determined both by NBA fans (who account for a quarter of the vote) and a media panel.
Sunday night’s game will feature two teams, one represented by LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and the other by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The All-Star Game will also feature a special tribute to Bryant and Gianna, as well as the seven other victims of the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
All members of Team LeBron will wear No. 2 on their jerseys, in memory of Gianna, who wore the number as a member of the Mamba Sports Academy. In turn, Team Giannis players will wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant, who wore the number in the latter half of his career.
To pay tribute to the other victims, both teams will wear patches with nine stars to represent all who were lost in the crash, including John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
“We know that [Bryant]’s watching over us. It’s our responsibility to just represent the purple and gold not only for him but for all the greats, everybody that’s ever come through the Lake Show,” James told reporters on Saturday, according tosports journalist Mark Medina, adding, “It’s a very, very sensitive subject.”
The NBA All-Star game will air live on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.