The tribute to Kobe Bryant triggers an unprecedented NBA all-star game


CHICAGO – In the end, the special number in honor of Kobe Bryant was 157 during the All-Star game on Sunday.

The new Bryant-inspired scoring system only increased the defensive intensity of the All-Star game at the United Center in the important fourth quarter, when it became cruel, badly plagued, controversial, chaotic and exciting.

Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, would have loved it.

A total of 157 points were scored at the end of the game, and Anthony Davis hit the jackpot with a free throw after being fouled by under-sized Kyle Lowry after a LeBron James entry pass. Davis missed the first, but did the next to end it.

With this shot, Team LeBron scored a 157-155 win over Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and received the $ 300,000 bonus for his charity in Chicago when Kawhi Leonard won the first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award with 30 points ,

LeBron James (l) and Giannis Antetokounmpo
LeBron James (l) and Giannis AntetokounmpoAP

"I didn't know what to expect," said James. "But throughout the fourth quarter, everyone said," It was a hell of a lot of fun. "

Leonard sunk his first four 3-points in the first quarter and 8 out of 14 for the LeBron Superteam competition.

"Winning it is a plus," said Leonard. "I did my first [four] Recordings and then I said to myself I'll try to get it. I had a relationship with [Kobe], Words cannot explain how happy I am to put this trophy in my trophy room to see Kobe's name there. He was a big inspiration in my life. "

Between 154 and 153, James Harden thought he had won it for the LeBron team and sunk a 3-point shot, but it was dismissed. Harden was called before the shot for a charge against Lowry.

James scored a dunk to make it 156-153. Joel Embiid made two free throws to cut it to 156-155, but Davis ended it on the next ball possession after being held in color.

James said it was a broken piece – initially for Leonard. Davis was doubled before getting a mismatch with Lowry.

The accumulated score was installed to start the fourth quarter at 133-124 in favor of Team Giannis, but Team LeBron rallied to win. The target score was determined by adding 24 points to the total of 133 leading team points.

Magic Johnson speaks during a tribute to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant before the start of the NBA All Star game.EPA

Each team wore jersey patches numbered "9" to represent the number of people killed in the helicopter crash. Team Giannis wore "24" – Bryant's jersey number – and Team LeBron wore the "2" that his daughter Gianna wore.

Another tribute was added in the fourth quarter when the shot clock turned purple when it hit eight – Bryant's other jersey number.

When asked whether Bryant's competitive strength was recognized in the final stages, James said, "We wouldn't be all-stars if we weren't competitors. You could definitely feel his presence from the start. Every time you Giannis & # 39; Team saw running on the floor, you saw the "2-4". "

It was a night of uncontested 3-point shots and terrific alley ups until the fourth quarter. The LeBron team won the first quarter to add $ 100,000 to its Chicago Scholars Foundation. The Giannis team won the second quarter for its charity (Chicago Afterschools programs) and the third quarter was a tie – the money went to the team that won the game.

The fourth quarter included charges, challenges for the coach, and an important retake that wiped out a late goalkeeper call to Antetokounmpo on a James layup.

Antetokounmpo ended with 25 points. Chris Paul, 34, gave the LeBron team 23 points and a rare alley-oop dunk. Paul hadn't been immersed in an NBA game in four years.

"That's one thing with Kobe," said Paul. "Whenever he was on our team in the All-Star game, there was nothing cool. It was like we were going to be there while they kicked the ball up."

That unprecedented night began a 44-minute pre-game ceremony where Magic Johnson spoke to the crowd and paid tribute to former commissioner David Stern and Bryant, who died on January 1st.

Johnson said shortly after his 1991 HIV announcement that Stern had allowed me to stay in the All-Star game and felt that it saved Stern's life. The great former Lakers said that few knew Bryant was going to alleviate the homelessness problem in Los Angeles.

"We have to hug in this difficult time – Kobe would have wanted to," said Johnson, asking for a moment of silence for eight seconds.

Images of Kobe throughout his life flashed on the scoreboard when Jennifer Hudson, born in Chicago, sang the hearty ballad "For All We Know" with pure emotion. The rapper “Common” was a wonderful homage to the city of Chicago and sang to everyone the basketball legends who were supposed to come out of the city, including Isiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade, and Bulls & # 39; icon Michael Jordan, who was absent.