NBA Reveals All-Star Game Honor for Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant holds the 2007 All-Star MVP award

Getty Kobe Bryant holds the 2007 All-Star MVP award

Since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant three weeks ago, the NBA has sought to find ways to properly honor him. It found one that was announced on Saturday night here at the United Center in Chicago by commissioner Adam Silver: The All-Star Game’s MVP trophy has been renamed after Bryant.

Bryant was an All-Star 18 times and won the game’s MVP award four times, which is tied for the most in the history of the game. He was the game’s MVP in 2002, 07, 09 (he was a co-winner with Shaquille O’Neal) and 11. Hall of Fame big man Bob Petit also won the All-Star MVP award four times.

Bryant played in 15 All-Star games (he was injured three times) and averaged 19.3 points on 50.0 percent shooting. His high in the game came in 2011, when he scored 37 points and added 14 rebounds.

“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” said Silver 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.”

Earlier, Bryant had been named a finalist for this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame class.

NBA Dedicates All-Star Weekend to Kobe Bryant

Bryant died on January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., while taking his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, to a basketball tournament. Gianna and seven others (John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan) perished along with Bryant. Investigators have yet to release a definitive cause of the accident.

In response to the crash, the NBA has dedicated this All-Star weekend to Bryant’s memory. Players participating in a variety of events are wearing patches with Nos. 2 and 24—the numbers worn by Gianna and Kobe Bryant, respectively—surrounded by nine stars, one for each of the crash victims.

The league opened the weekend with Pau Gasol, Bryant’s former teammate with the Lakers, and legendary WNBA player Sue Bird giving tributes to Bryant and former commissioner David Stern, who died on January 1. A chant of “Ko-be!” rang out at the United Center.

“Like their impact on the court and the game,” Bird said. “They’ll never be forgotten.”

Bryant Will be Prominent in Sunday’s Game

In Sunday’s All-Star game, all players for Team LeBron will wear No. 2 and all players for Team Giannis will wear 24.

The league also instituted a scoring change incorporating Bryant’s jersey No. 24. In each of the first three quarters, the teams will play for a local Chicago charity, the winner of each quarter getting $100,000 for that charity. (If there is a tie, the money rolls into the next quarter.)

Heading into the fourth quarter, the winner of the game will be determined by a “target score” which is the leading team’s total, plus 24 points. So if one team is ahead by, say, 100-90, it’ll take 124 points to win. The losing team would have to score 34 before the leading team scores 24.

The fourth quarter will be played without a clock and TNT will broadcast it without commercials.

Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will also perform a special tribute to Bryant ahead of the start of the All-Star game.

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