During the annual All-Star Game weekend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the MVP award for the All-Star Game would be renamed in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.
Silver revealed the renamed award during a press conference, saying that there was another honor for Bryant. The All-Star Game MVP trophy will now be referred to as the Kobe Bryant MVP trophy and will be given out to a player at tonight’s All-Star Game in Chicago.
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” Silver said in a statement. “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’s first NBA All-Star Game appearance was in 1998 when he was just 19 years old, making him the youngest player to play in the All-Star Game. Throughout his multidecade career, he made 18 consecutive All-Star appearances, snagging him the second most appearances behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 19. The former Laker won the NBA All-Star Game MVP award in 2002, 2007, 2009, as well as 2011.
"I know it will be especially meaningful to that player that wins the first Kobe Bryant MVP," Silver said during a press conference on Saturday. "So I'm sure there will be other honors as well, and as I mentioned, there are other things that we will be discussing with our board — the NBA board — when we meet in April to honor David (Stern). But this one seems so appropriate here at All-Star because no one embodied All-Star more than Kobe Bryant."
Former President Barack Obama also spoke out in support of Bryant on Saturday, speaking at the NBA All-Star Weekend Newsmaker Brunch. Obama honored both Bryant and his daughter Gianna, as well as former NBA commissioner David Stern, who died in early January due to a brain hemorrhage.
"That loss is something I know many are still grappling with,” he said. “Particularly Kobe, because he was with his daughter and those families and those children and those of us who have had the joy and privilege of being parents and taking kids to ball games and then rooting for our children and seeing our dreams and hopes passed on to them. Nothing is more heartbreaking.”
He added, “And so I want to offer the NBA family Michelle and my deepest condolences and obviously the families of the Sterns and the Bryants.”