Kawhi Leonard is the first recipient of the Kia National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player award, which the league officially named after Kobe Bryant.
At a media press conference before All-Star events on Saturday night, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the award would be permanently named after Bryant, who was killed along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
According to Silver the decision was made to name the MVP award after Bryant following league discussions with “particular players,” including Oklahoma City Thunder guard, Chris Paul, who helped come up with the idea.
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” Silver said.
With Team LeBron beating Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago, the Los Angeles Clippers star was the logical candidate. During his acceptance speech, he credited Bryant with helping him reach this point.
Leonard had a game-high 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The bulk of his scoring came from beyond the arc, as he was 8-of-14 on three-pointers.