The NBA All-Star Game is the annual celebration of the star power of the league, but this year it’s a poignant affair following the loss of the legendary five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant and former NBA commissioner David Stern.
With all of the All-Stars on the stage prior to Sunday night’s game, Magic Johnson paid his respects to both Bryant and Stern with a moving speech. Johnson capped the tribute by having everyone stand and hold hands for a moment of silence of eight seconds in honor of one of Bryant’s jersey numbers.
Grammy and Academy Award-winning Jennifer Hudson then followed with an awe-inspiring tribute, performing a powerful song with images of Bryant appearing behind her on the projection screen.
Bryant tragically lost his life last month along with eight others including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, when the helicopter that was transporting them to Bryant’s basketball academy crashed.
NBA Renames All-Star Game MVP Trophy After 18-Time All-Star Kobe Bryant
The most valuable player of Sunday night’s All-Star Game will be bringing home a newly-minted trophy featuring a tribute to the fallen legend, Kobe Bryant.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Saturday at his All-Star Weekend news conference that the award will be renamed the Kobe Bryant MVP Award, in honor of the 18-time NBA All-Star who was killed in a with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month in a tragic helicopter crash.
In addition to the five NBA titles he led the Lakers to, Bryant was named the MVP of the All-Star Game four times during his illustrious career (2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011).
Bryant was named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame during the NBA’s All-Star weekend.
“I’ve never seen in my long life an athlete passing that had the impact that Kobe’s passing had on people, people on the street, people that didn’t even know him,” said Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
LeBron James Faces Giannis Antetokounmpo in Second Straight All-Star Contest
For the second straight year, Team LeBron will take on Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star Game. The 69th edition of the contest is being hosted by the city of Chicago – the first All-Star Game to be played in the Windy City since 1988.
Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 178-164 in the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C. Kevin Durant led the way for Team LeBron with 31 points and was named the MVP for the second time in his career.
Since the NBA switched over to the new format for the All-Star game in which the leading vote-getters from each conference select their teammates from the pool of starters and reserves, LeBron James’ teams are 2-0. In the inaugural contest featuring the new format in 2018, Team LeBron beat Team Stephen 148-145 in Los Angeles, Calif.
James will take the court Sunday at the “House that Michael Jordan Built” with a supremely-talented cast of starting superstars including his Los Angeles Lakers teammate and the 2017 All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis, two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, the 2018 NBA MVP James Harden and the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic.
The reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will look to snap James’ two-year win streak with a starting roster comprised of three-time All-Star Joel Embiid, four-time All-Star Kemba Walker and All-Star debutants Trae Young and Pascal Siakam.
Here’s a look at the full All-Star game roster for Team LeBron and Team Giannis.
*LeBron James, Lakers
*Anthony Davis, Lakers
*James Harden, Rockets
*Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
*Luka Doncic, Mavericks
Devin Booker, Suns
Chris Paul, Thunder
Ben Simmons, 76ers
Domantas Sabonis, Pacers
Jayson Tatum, Celtics
Russell Westbrook, Rockets
Damian Lillard, Blazers (Will not play, injured)
Coach: Frank Vogel, Lakers
*Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
*Joel Embiid, 76ers
*Pascal Siakam, Raptors
*Kemba Walker, Celtics
*Trae Young, Hawks
Bam Adebayo, Heat
Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
Donovan Mitchell, Jazz
Jimmy Butler, Heat
Rudy Gobert, Jazz
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Khris Middleton, Bucks
COACH: Nick Nurse, Raptors