The NBA All-Star Game MVP Award has been permanently named for the late Kobe Bryant, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Saturday.
Bryant won a record-tying four All-Star Game MVP awards, including at the 2011 All-Star Game at Staples Center. He shared the award in 2009 with former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal. He also won the award outright in 2002 and 2007.
“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.”
Bryant made his NBA All-Star Game debut in 1998 at age 19, the youngest player to play in an All-Star Game. That appearance marked the first of his 18 All-Star selections, second most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 19.
Bryant holds the NBA record for consecutive All-Star selections with 18 from 1998-2016. The 1999 game was canceled because of the owners’ lockout of the players after the breakdown in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
Hall of Fame forward Bob Pettit also won four All-Star Game MVP awards, three in the 1950s and the last in 1962. He shared the award in 1959 with Elgin Baylor of the then-Minneapolis Lakers.
Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 along with his daughter Gianna and seven other people, will also be honored at Sunday’s All-Star Game in Chicago by having all players on Team Giannis wearing the No. 24, the number he wore his final 10 seasons with the Lakers.
The players on Team LeBron will wear the No. 2, Gianna’s number.
Both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing those who lost their lives in the crash, including John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan.
The winner of the All-Star Game will be the first team to reach the final target score, the leading team’s total score after the first three quarters plus 24. The fourth quarter will be untimed.
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