Adam Silver walked out to address assorted media in advance of All-Star Saturday with an elephant already in the room: A mysterious object veiled a black cloth directly to his left.
In a short time, Silver revealed said object to be the All-Star game’s new MVP trophy, named after the late Kobe Bryant. It’s a fitting homage to Bryant, who holds the record for consecutive All-Star game selections with 18, and is tied for most All-Star game MVPs with four.
“We were thinking about what the best way is, one of the ways to honor Kobe. It happened to be that his loss came shortly before we were moving into All-Star festivities,” Silver said. “We were thinking what is something special we could do at All-Star that had more permanence than changing the numbers on the jerseys… To all of us, it seemed like the appropriate way to bring honor to him.”
In addition to the trophy being renamed, players on Team Giannis will wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant and players on Team LeBron will wear No. 2 in honor of Bryant's daughter Gigi at Sunday night’s All-Star Game. More tributes have and will continue to take place throughout the weekend.
Bryant and Gigi, along with seven others, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA in January. The passengers were on their way to a travel basketball game at Mamba Academy.
“His loss, together with his daughter and those other seven poeple on the helicopter, is unspeakable,” Silver said. “As the father of a child, I mean, that’s unimaginable.”
And of the numerous ways the NBA is honoring them over this weekend: “I’d say that’s something the players embraced. This generation of players, so many of them grew up with Kobe as their role model as a player, as a competitor, and he loved the game, and he stayed close to those guys.”
Silver also took a few moments to acknowledge the passing of NBA commissioner emeritus David Stern.
“He (Stern) was a force of nature for those who got to work for him… He had a vision for what this league could become, and that league involved it being a major factor in the sports world. He had a belief that this league can truly be global.
“Not only will he be missed, but he’s somebody that will remain in our hearts and minds for a long time, and we will continue to talk at the league about the proper way to honor him over time.”