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Kawhi Leonard wins first-ever NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant MVP award

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The audience had their picks as to who was going to win the first-ever Kobe Bryant MVP award. The choice seemed obvious this time around, as superstar forward Kawhi Leonard showed out in the All-Star game with eight made threes. Leonard was one short of Clippers teammate Paul George’s record of nine threes in a game.

Kawhi Leonard delivered with 30 points, seven rebounds, and four assists at an efficient 11-of-18. His first-half performance was especially noteworthy, putting an early exclamation with only one miss out of his first eight attempts behind the arc.

Leonard’s Team LeBron eventually won with a game-winning free throw by Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis, edging out Team Giannis, 157-155. Captain LeBron James contributed 20 points and nine assists, while Giannis Antetokounmpo led his team with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.

The All-Star MVP was recently renamed to the Kobe Bryant MVP award to honor the late Lakers icon, who had an untimely death last January 26. He was with his 13-year-old daughter, aspiring basketball player Gianna Bryant, and seven other victims. There was also 24.2 seconds of silence early on, a tribute to Kobe’s retired jersey and his daughter’s No. 2.

The whole weekend was a tribute to the five-time NBA champion. The Black Mamba was a fixture in the All-Star weekend, and tied with Hall of Famer Bob Pettit for the most number of All-Star MVPs at four. During the festivities, Hall of Fame officials also announced Bryant as a finalist for induction into the 2020 Hall of Fame class, along with former San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan and former Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Garnett.