NBA Commissioner announced before the all star game 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.
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.
In the game James'team wore blue jerseys, all with the No. 2 for Gianna Bryant. Antetokounmpo's team wore red, every player wearing No. 24 on the back for Kobe Bryant.
And on their right shoulders was a black circular patch with nine stars, one for each victim of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Bryant, his daughter and their seven friends on Jan. 26.
"His presence was felt," James said. Everyone at the All-Star Game on Sunday got a 24-page tribute published by Sports Illustrated devoted to Bryant's career.
On the last page of text, just before the back cover, was a quote from Jordan: “I loved Kobe - he was like a little brother to me," it began.
Next to that quote was a photo, Bryant guarding Jordan in 1997, sticking his tongue out much in the same way that the Bulls'guard often did.
Kawhi Leonard won the game's MVP award, the first named in Bryant's honor.
Leonard scored a game-high 30 points (11-of-18 FG, 8-of-14 3-pointers), with seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
"It means a lot to me," said Leonard, who was a key contributor to Team LeBron's closing lineup.
"Words can't even explain making this the first Kobe Bryant MVP trophy.
I want to thank Kobe for everything he's done for me, all the long talks and workouts. Thank you, this one's for him."
And with the new rules, they went at it in the fourth: Antetokounmpo got out to block a shot by James,
Lowry took a charge from his former Toronto teammate in Leonard, elbows got up in collisions for rebound positioning,
Chris Paul was screaming encouragement to Team LeBron teammates in a time-out -- all adding up to an intensity hardly ever seen in All-Star Games.
Players were taking charges, bodies were hitting the floor, calls and non-calls were being screamed about on both ends.
The fourth quarter of the NBA All-Star Game was as intense as the final moments of a playoff game, the biggest stars in the league holding absolutely nothing back.
Kobe Bryant — ever the competitor — would have simply loved the way this night went.
"That was pretty damn fun," a sweat-soaked, exhausted LeBron James said at the end.
And in the end, Anthony Davis was a hometown hero by making a free throw.
Davis made a game-ending free throw to give Team LeBron a 157-155 win over Team Giannis in the revamped NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night,
the format overhauled to put in elements for charity and ensure that someone was going to hit a shot to end the game.
"I told my team I was going to miss the first one to put a little more pressure on myself here at home," Davis said.