About three weeks after Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the All-Star Game MVP trophy would be renamed after Bryant.
The trophy is now called the “Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award.”
“This trophy will be presented at the conclusion of tomorrow’s All-Star game,” said Silver at a press conference in Chicago on Saturday. “I know it will be especially meaningful to that player that wins the first Kobe Bryant MVP … This one seemed so appropriate at All-Star. No one embodied All-Star more than Kobe Bryant.”
Kawhi Leonard was the MVP of Sunday’s game, and he was the first person to receive the award under its new name.
It was handed to the Los Angeles Clippers star after he scored 30 points and grabbed seven rebounds during the game, which took place at Chicago’s United Center. Team LeBron also beat Team Giannis 157-155.
“Words can’t explain how happy I am for it,” said Leonard about the award. “I’m able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room. Just to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me. He’s a big inspiration in my life. He did a lot for me.”
Besides the MVP trophy being renamed, Bryant’s name, jersey number and image were a big part of Sunday’s game.
For example, Dr. Dre produced a song that appeared in a clip that played during the game, which showed parts of Bryant’s life and career.
Jennifer Hudson also paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers star with a performance of Donny Hathaway’s “For All We Know,” as images of Kobe and Gianna rotated in the background.
On top of that, all of the players on Team Giannis wore Kobe’s No. 24 jersey number to honor him, and Team LeBron wore No. 2 to pay tribute to Gianna, who played with that number.