Fans and a media panel will determine the winner of the new award in Bryant’s name, which is officially called the 2020 Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award.
CHICAGO (CBSLA) — Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard became the first recipient of the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award on Sunday.
The award was officially renamed in honor of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. NBA commissioner Adam Silver shared the news in a press conference Saturday.
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” Silver said. “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.”
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 16, 2020
Leonard scored 30 points to help Lakers star LeBron James’ team beat the team led by Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, saying he’s thankful for Bryant’s impact on his life.
“This one is for him.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 17, 2020
Bryant was the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game at 19 years old in 1998. That was the first of his 18 All-Star selections, which according to the NBA is second most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had 19 selections. The five-time NBA champion was named the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Throughout his 20-year career, Bryant played with the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 33,643 points in his career, ranking fourth on NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26, along with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
A celebration of life for the father-daughter pair is set for Feb. 24 at the Staples Center.
The crash remains under investigation.