All-Star Game remembers Kobe Bryant with tributes from Magic, Jennifer Hudson, Common

ByMalika Andrews ESPN logo
Monday, February 17, 2020

CHICAGO -- The tributes to the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna began well before Sunday night's All-Star Game at the United Center.

Before the players were announced and the game tipped off, the lights went down, and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson took center stage to make a speech honoring the Lakers legend.

"We'll never see another basketball player quite like Kobe," said Johnson, who also paid tribute to David Stern, the late NBA commissioner emeritus. "Scoring 81 points in one game. Scoring 60 points in his last game. And then winning five NBA championships.

"But what I'm really proud about when we think about Kobe Bryant, there's millions of people in Los Angeles that don't have a home. Kobe was fighting to get them homes and shelter every single day. He was passionate about that. He was also passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker. Young man won an Oscar. So we all are hurting. This is a tough time for the whole NBA family."

Johnson led the crowd -- which chanted "Kobe! Kobe!'' -- in an eight-second moment of silence in a nod to the number Bryant wore the first half of his career.

Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson, wearing a dress in the Lakers' deep purple team color, performed "For All We Know (We May Never Meet Again)" as images of Bryant flashed on a screen behind the stage.

South Side product Common followed with a rap dedicated to the great players from the city, as well as Bryant, before he handled the introductions of the players.

"A king named Kobe Bryant," Common rapped as the arena lights lit up in purple and gold. "Even in the darkest times, you'll feel Kobe's light."

In addition, there was a video that featured Jesse Williams, among others, talking about Bryant's relationship with Chicago Bulls champion Michael Jordan.

"Kobe, we miss you and I hope we made you proud," Johnson later tweeted.

Chicago native Chance the Rapper also paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna during his halftime performance.

After Team LeBron eked out a 157-155 win over Team Giannis, Kawhi Leonard was presented with the first Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP award.

"I think it's just another great deed of our great commissioner, Adam Silver," LeBron James said of honoring Kobe Bryant on Sunday. "Just for him to think of that and be able to rename the MVP trophy after Kobe. What that guy meant to our league, his inspiration around players that are in the league, of kids that isn't in the league, former players and so on and so on.

"Every timeGiannis [Antetokounmpo]and his teammates ran down the court, I seen the back of them, No. 24. I noticed my finger band that has a 24 on it. His legacy is living on every single day with us."

Chris Paul, who had 23 points for Team LeBron to go with a two-handed dunk, said of the night, "I think the best way we could honor Kobe, Gigi and everyone involved was to play like we played, you know what I mean?

"Me and Russ [Westbrook] kept talking about it. That's one thing about Kobe: Whenever he was on our team in the All-Star Game, there wasn't none of that cool stuff. There wasn't none of that. It was, like, as long as they throw the ball up, let's get to it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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