The NBA’s annual All-Star weekend was held in Chicago this year and included its’ usual exhibition challenges – Rising Stars Challenge, Celebrity Basketball Game, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout and the Slam Dunk Contest, took place and included players throughout the league. On Sunday, some of the NBA’s best will match up for a fun, yet competitive game to conclude the weekend. However, despite the lighthearted nature of All-Star weekend, the league is still mourning the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who will be honored during the All-Star Game that will conclude the weekend of events.
A tribute will be made in honor of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, during tip off for the 69th annual All-Star game, according to CBS Sports. The teams, Team LeBron – after the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Team Giannis – after the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, will wear jersey numbers memorializing the NBA legend and his daughter. Team Giannis will wear Gianna’s No. 2 and Team LeBron will wear Kobe’s No. 24. They will also aim for a final target score that includes his jersey No. 24. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. ET. The number 8 is symbolic as well, as it was Kobe’s original jersey number when playing for the Lakers.
Kobe and Gianna died in helicopter crash, along with seven others, on Jan. 26.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also announced on Saturday that the NBA All-Star MVP award will be renamed in honor of Bryant. According to a report from Sports Illustrated, Silver revealed during a press conference that the honor has been permanently renamed to the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award.
“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.”
The newly renamed MVP award will be given at the end of the All-Star Game and will conclude the annual weekend.
During Bryant’s NBA tenure, he was an 18-time All-Star and won four All-Star MVP awards, tying with Hall of Famer Bob Pettit, according to the report.
Immediately following Bryant and his daughter’s tragic passing, players in the NBA, who still had to compete after hearing the news, honored the NBA champion by intentionally receiving a 24-second shot clock violation, as well as an 8-second violation at the beginning of the game.
Bryant’s team of 20 years, the Los Angeles Lakers, also honored their former champion during the team’s first game after him and his daughter’s death by placing jerseys with the numbers 24 and 8 on all of the seats in the arena. LeBron also gave a tribute in celebration of Bryant’s life.
The Lakers also reserved two court-side seats for Bryant and Gianna, which were covered with their jerseys and had a bouquet of flowers.
“I know at some point we will have a memorial for Kobe, but I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting down, sitting up, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be,” James said at the time.