Dynamic Los Angeles Clippers star, Kawhi Leonard, became the first recipient of the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award at the 2020 All-Star Game this weekend.
Playing for Team LeBron, the 28-year-old scored 25 of his 30 points in the first half of the game and went 8-for-14 overall from the 3-point-range which helped to push him over the top to win his first All-Star Game MVP award.
"It's very special," Leonard said. "I had a relationship with him. Words can't explain how happy I am to be able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room, and just be able to see Kobe's name on there.
"It just means a lot to me. He's a big inspiration in my life. He did a lot for me."
Leonard can add the MVP trophy to several other accolades he's earned over the years. He's appeared at the All-Star Game four times in his career and is also a two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP. He's also earned two Defensive Player of the Year awards and three All-NBA honors.
The award was permanently renamed by the NBA in honor of Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at a Saturday evening news conference.
“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game," Silver said. “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 won the MVP award four times during his 20-year career in the NBA. Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, the aircraft's pilot and six other passengers.
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