NBA All-Star 2020: Kawhi Leonard's Great Kobe Bryant Story Will Put a Smile on Fans' Faces

Kawhi Leonard was the star among stars during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday. His impressive effort resulted in him being named the game's MVP and the recipient of the first-ever Kobe Bryant MVP Award. The league announced prior to the game that they would be naming the honor after the fallen Lakers star, who was among nine who died in a helicopter crash in January.

Following the game, in which he scored a game-high 30 points, Leonard sat down with the TNT crew and shared an interaction between he and Bryant.

"We were talking, and he's competitive and he says, 'How many shots you shot in that game?' I said 'What you mean?'" Leonard started. "He said, 'How many shot attempts?' and I said, 'My highest, probably like 19 times,' and he goes, 'Ask me how many times I've shot it,' so I'm like 'How many?' and he said, 'I shot it 47 times.'"

This occurred during Leonard's days in San Antonio before he headed north to Toronto, where he led the Raptors to a title in his one and only year in Canada. Leonard now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers where he has his team in line for a deep playoff run.

In a separate interview with the media, Leonard talked about what it meant to win the award that was recently dedicated to Bryant.

"It's very special," Leonard said. "Like I said, I had a relationship with him. Words can't explain how happy I am for it. Able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room, and just be able 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."

In the days after the tragedy that struck on Jan. 26, Leonard shared the news that he had began using Bryant's pilot, Ara Zobayan. He said he had "flown with him a lot" before the deadly crash.


"Great guy, super nice, he was one of their best pilots," Leonard told USA Today. "That's a guy who you ask for to fly you from city to city. It's just surreal still for me. He'll drop me off and say he's about to pick up Kobe. ... He'll be like, 'I just dropped Kobe off, he said, 'Hello' and vice versa. It's just a crazy interaction. He's a good dude. I'm sorry for everybody."