Six-time NBA champion and global icon Michael Jordan has said that a part of him died when basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. "When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," Jordan was quoted as saying by the New York Times while speaking at a public memorial service held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Monday.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on January 26. The date 2/24 for the memorial could be viewed as symbolic as Bryant wore No. 24 during the latter part of his illustrious NBA career and his daughter Gianna wore No. 2 for her youth basketball teams.
As soon as Jordan started his speech, Jordan broke down almost, and, about halfway through, he did not hesitate to poke fun at himself for being unable to hold his emotions together.
"In the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank," Jordan said. "He left it all on the floor."
Bryant finished his playing career as the Lakers' all-time leading points scorer, and is fourth on the NBA's all-time list with 33,643 points. He won gold for the US at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Bryant also has an Academy Award to his name for his animated short film Dear Basketball in 2018.
The NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award will be presented on Sunday at the conclusion of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago, where the league is celebrating the lives of Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26.
"Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game," said Silver. "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."
Bryant made his NBA All-Star Game debut in 1998 at age 19, the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game. That appearance marked the first of his 18 All-Star selections, second most in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant holds the NBA record for consecutive All-Star selections as he was honored 18 straight times from 1998-2016. Bryant was named the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2002, 2007, 2009 (co-winner with Shaquille O'Neal) and 2011. The only other player to win four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards is Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Pettit.
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