The NBA All-Star Game jerseys are just one of the many ways the league is honoring the late Kobe Bryant along with his daughter Gigi Bryant. Team Giannis is wearing No. 24 as a nod to Kobe’s Lakers jersey number while Team LeBron’s players all have No. 2 which was Gigi’s number. Gigi developed a love for basketball just like her father, and they were on their way to one of her games prior to the crash.
“You know what’s funny,” Bryant said on the “All the Smoke” podcast, per Today.com. “Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that’s she’s into basketball, we watch every night.”
Gigi Wore No. 2, While Kobe Is Known for the No. 24
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the captains in the game and believes it is a fitting way to honor the Bryants after the fateful helicopter crash.
“Wearing 24 and LeBron wearing number 2, it’s a big honor,” Giannis said, per NBA.com. “I wouldn’t want it any other way representing Kobe and Gigi in the game…Growing up, he was my idol. Not just my idol, probably the whole generation, a lot of people my age. For us, he was the Michael Jordan of our generation. 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. There was a quote that said that talent is worthless if you’re not willing to share it, right? And he was one of those guys that was sharing his talent with us. He’s going to be definitely missed.”
During All-Star Weekend, players have also been wearing a black patch on their jersey with No. 2 and No. 24 which is also a nod to the Bryant family. It was a somber mood across the league heading into All-Star Weekend, but LeBron James believes the celebration can be a way to honor Kobe’s legacy.
“We know he’s watching over us,” LeBron noted, per NBA.com. “For us to be able to honor Kobe and his legacy, it’s a beautiful time. Even in loss, a beautiful time.”
The NBA Renamed the All-Star MVP Award After Kobe Bryant
The jerseys are just one of several ways the NBA is paying homage to Kobe. The league announced that the MVP trophy for the game has been renamed for the fallen Lakers star.
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained, per NBA.com. “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 NBA also tweaked the all-star game format as part of the ongoing tribute to Kobe. The team leading after three quarters will have to score 24 points to win the game, a nod to Kobe’s jersey number. Kobe and Gigi’s public memorial service is scheduled for February 24th at the Staples Center.