CHICAGO — Chants of “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe” echoed throughout the United Center crowd prior to the NBA All-Star’s Rising Stars game Friday night.
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash Jan. 26. Bryant and late NBA commissioner David Stern, who died Jan. 1, were honored before the game by former Bryant teammate Pau Gasol and WNBA star Sue Bird. Bryant was named a Hall of Fame finalist prior to the game.
“These next few days are a tribute to their legacy,” said an emotional Gasol, who won two NBA titles alongside Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. “I know my older brother Kobe used to say do epic things always. Let’s have an epic weekend in their honor.”
“Let their impact on the court never be forgotten. We literally wouldn’t be standing here without David,” Bird added to the arena crowd. “His brainchild was the NBA All-Star Game.”
Kobe Bryant receives the 2011 All-Star MVP trophy from David Stern. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)
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In the player introductions New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson and Dallas Mavericks All-Star Luka Doncic received the loudest receptions from the crowd.
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