NBA renames All-Star MVP award for Kobe Bryant

first_imgCHICAGO — Even among stars, Kobe Bryant had a way of standing out.In an exhibition famous for being played without much on the line, Bryant cared. He debuted in the game at 19 years old, the youngest-ever All-Star and scored 18 points to lead the Western Conference. He won four MVP awards in his 18 All-Star Game appearances. When he retired, he had scored 290 points – a record that since has only been surpassed by LeBron James.In the words of NBA commissioner Adam Silver: “Nobody embodied All-Star more than Kobe Bryant.”In that spirit, the NBA announced Saturday that it is naming the All-Star Game’s MVP award after Bryant in the wake of his death last month. While the league is also honoring Bryant by having the players wear Nos. 24 and 2 – the jersey numbers of Bryant and his daughter Gianna – and adopting a new fourth-quarter scoring format for the game, Silver said the Laker legend deserved a more permanent honor. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “There was also a sense that the first time there was going to be a Laker game, that there was going to be a coming together, intense coming together of Laker fans, Kobe fans, and how was this going to be handled?” he said. “So I think there was sort of the issue of the game itself, but then what was that experience going to be like in the arena?”The Lakers did their Friday tribute to Bryant in an emotional ceremony that was well-received. The Lakers and Clippers have yet to announce a date for their postponed contest.Silver worked for the league office during Bryant’s entire 20-year career, but he said the two grew closest after Bryant retired in 2016. He admired Bryant’s zeal for storytelling, which won him an Academy Award, and he compared Bryant’s domineering will to win to David Stern – the former NBA commissioner who Silver is still mourning as well.He called Bryant’s death “unspeakable” and Gianna’s death “unimaginable.” He felt the void Bryant left through the ranks of players in the league he oversees.“This generation of players, so many of them grew up with Kobe as their role model as a player, as a competitor,” Silver said. “He loved the game, and he stayed close to these guys. I know it will be especially meaningful to that player that wins the first Kobe Bryant MVP.”NBA ESTIMATES ‘HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS’ IN LOST REVENUE TO CHINAThe cost of a seven-word tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is still being accounted, and even though it’s not as high as some reports, Silver had to admit it was “substantial.”Silver said the lost revenue from China has cost “probably less” than $400 million, a figure that represents about four percent of the league’s estimated annual $9.5 billion in annual revenue. The money includes sponsorship and broadcast dollars lost after Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protests in October. The social media post wasn’t up for long, but it sparked a considerable reaction from China, where strict government control over media and business reigns.Silver wished to quell rumors that the NBA had lost as much or more than a billion dollars in the controversy, which affected the Lakers when they found themselves an awkward position during their preseason exhibition games in Shenzhen and Shanghai. But Silver pointed to data that suggested the long-term damage would not be so grievous.“I don’t have any sense that there’s any permanent damage to our business there, and as I’ve said before, we accept the consequences of our system and our values,” he said. “It’s not a position any business wants to be in, but those are the results.”The NBA still does not have games broadcast on state-run CCTV. Games are available with media partner streaming service Tencent. Silver said engagement data still points to a high level of interest in the game within the country.But China is also dealing with another crisis: the coronavirus outbreak that has diverted governmental resources. Silver sent his thoughts to the NBA’s fans and media partners in China dealing with the health scare, which he said has created a bit of stasis in a relationship he hopes will thaw. He said the NBA will continue along as it has, with hopes that China will soon come back to the table.“My sense is that there will be a return to normalcy fairly soon,” he said. “But I can’t say exactly when.”The NBA and USA Basketball are still considering playing in China later this year. Silver said the discussions in both cases – pre-Olympic games for USA Basketball and the preseason games for the NBA – are ongoing, and said the decisions are not necessarily linked. It’s possible the U.S. might play there this summer and the NBA does not send teams this fall, Silver said.“Those are issues that haven’t been decided yet,” Silver said.center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSo the NBA decided to name the award – of which Bryant is one of just two four-time winners – after a singular All-Star.“While it has existed for a long time, it never had that particular player association, for example, in the way The Finals MVP is the Bill Russell trophy,” Silver said on Saturday night at his annual All-Star weekend news conference. “To all of us, it seemed like the appropriate way to bring honor to him.”Silver oversaw a difficult process on Jan. 26, when he first heard reports that Bryant’s helicopter had crashed in Calabasas. While the identities of the nine people who died in the crash would be known later that day, when the league was first working to confirm the rumors, NBA arenas were already starting to see staffers trickling into work.Silver said the NBA, trying to gather information from the Lakers and NBA security staffers – and indirectly from the Bryant family – chose not to cancel games that Sunday when they couldn’t definitively confirm the reports. The league also conferred with Chris Paul, head of the player’s association, and got his input. They allowed players who either were too distressed to play or too aggrieved to speak to the media time to mourn.The Lakers-Clippers game was a different matter: They worked with both the Lakers and Clippers to determine what the best steps were, ultimately deciding to postpone. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer told the league that he would defer to what the NBA and the Lakers decided. Silver said that it wasn’t just players who were too upset to return to work two days after Bryant had died, but it represented the organization’s overall depth of sorrow.last_img

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