NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced another major tribute to Kobe Bryant during his annual press conference before the NBA All-Star Game. The game's MVP award will be renamed the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award. Bryant received the All-Star Game MVP award himself four times during his career and played in the game 18 times before his retirement in 2016.
"Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game," Silver said Saturday in Chicago. "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 MVP award recipient is determined by a combination of a fan vote and media panel. The media panel makes up 75 percent of the vote, while fans make up 25 percent. It is the 10th consecutive season with Kia as the award's sponsor.
Bryant was a constant presence at the NBA All-Star Game during his career. He first appeared at the game in 1998, when he was only 19 years old, making him the youngest all-star in NBA history. He was selected for the game every year from 2000 to 2016, bringing his total All-Star Game appearances to 18. The only player with more All-Star Game selections is Kareem Abdul-Jabar, who made it 19 times.
Bryant was also named the All-Star Game MVP in 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011. He shared the 2009 award with his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal, who was playing for the Phoenix Suns at the time. Byant is tied with NBA Hall of Famer Bob Pettit for most All-Star Game MVP awards.
The late basketball legend spent his entire NBA career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships. He was named the league's regular season MVP in 2008. The day after his death last month, the NBA confirmed Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in his fist year of eligibility.
The NBA is planning several tributes to Bryant throughout the All-Star Game on Sunday night. LeBron James' team will wear number 2 in honor of Bryant's daughter Gianna Bryant, who also died in the crash, while Giannis Antetokounmpo's team will all wear 24 in honor of Bryant. They will also wear a patch with nine stars to honor all victims of the crash and a black band in memory of the late NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Bryant and Gianna died on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The other victims were John Altobelli, Kerri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Saah Cheste, Payton Chester and pilot Ara Zobayan.0comments
The NBA All-Star Game tips off at 8 p.m. ET on TNT, live from Chicago.
Photo credit: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images