Los Angeles, February 16: The NBA has permanently renamed the annual All-Star MVP award after the late Kobe Bryant, commissioner Adam Silver announced on Saturday (February 15).
Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant claimed the trophy a joint-record four times during his highly decorated career and will now forever have his name tied to the trophy.
The 18-time All-Star died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in California last month.
Silver said: "Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game.
"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."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced today that the Kia NBA All-Star Game MVP Award has been permanently named for the late Kobe Bryant, an 18-time All-Star who won a record-tying four All-Star Game MVP awards. pic.twitter.com/fJ9RWEwVe9— NBA (@NBA) February 16, 2020
The first award linked to Bryant's name will be presented following Sunday's game between Team LeBron and Team Giannis in Chicago.
Team captain and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo paid tribute to Bryant's star power and willingness to support young players.
"Growing up he was my idol," the reigning NBA MVP told reporters. "Not just my idol, probably the whole generation, a lot of people my age's idol. He was the Michael Jordan of our generation.
"He was one of these guys who gave back to the game so much, gave back to the players.
"A lot of people, when they're so great, they don't do that. Whenever I needed something, I could just reach out to him. He was always there."