Kawhi Leonard raises first MVP prize named after Kobe Bryant while LA Clippers Guard scores 30 points to help Team LeBron win the NBA All-Star Game
- LA Clipper guard Kawhi Leonard was the striking performer on Sunday evening
- He scored 30 points to help Team LeBron triumph in the NBA All-Stars Game
- He then received the MVP trophy, now named after Kobe Bryant
Kawhi Leonard made it seem effortless, nailing one 3-pointer after another and almost matching an All-Star Game record.
The difficult part came later. Finding the right words to express how he felt after becoming the first Kobe Bryant MVP Award winner was not so easy.
Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-points to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 win over Team Giannis on Sunday night.
Kawhi Leonard walked away with the Kobe Bryant MVP award at the NBA’s All-Star game
The guard of LA Clippers is the first recipient of the prize since it was renamed Bryant
Leonard told reporters how much inspiration the late Bryant had been for him
He was presented with the MVP trophy that the division renamed Bryant on Saturday, three weeks after the Lakers were great and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna was one of nine people killed when their helicopter crashed near Los Angeles.
“It’s very special,” Leonard said. “Like I said, I had a relationship with him. Words cannot explain how happy I am for it. Being able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room, and just see the name of Kobe there, it just means a lot to me. He is a great inspiration in my life. He has done a lot for me. “
Bryant was enormously present at the first All-Star festivities in Chicago since 1988, when Michael Jordan delighted the home crowd by beating Dominique Wilkins in a classic slam dunk contest and scoring 40 points to win MVP awards.
There were all kinds of tributes to Bryant, his daughter and deceased NBA commissioner Emeritus David Stern. But once the game started, it wasn’t long before Leonard made his presence felt.
Leonard is standing next to James Harden (second left) and team captain LeBron James
Leonard was the key for Team LeBron and scored 30 points against Team Giannis
The Los Angeles Clippers star has two NBA final MVP trophies after San Antonio and Toronto to help win championships.
He was chosen for his fourth All-Star team and set up a decent screen from the perimeter, eliminating 8 of 14 3-pointers.
If he had made another, he would have equaled the record of Paul George’s all-record in 2016. And he seemed well on the way to breaking it after a scorching start.
Leonard hit the game for a few seconds. He made all four 3s in the first quarter – the only shots he made while scoring 12 points.
Leonard was 7 out of 10 in the first half, to cool down a bit afterwards. He missed a step-back 3 that could have won with his team 154-153, but was the runaway winner for the MVP honors with seven votes. LeBron James received three and Chicago product Anthony Davis and Chris Paul received one each.
The only thing missing for Leonard now is the MVP prize for the regular season of the competition.
“My way of thinking is always to make my team the best team at the end of the regular season,” Leonard said. “And if I’m lucky enough to win a regular season MVP, I’m happy with it. I always just want to win championships. I am not really concerned about the personal goal. So I always want to play to win championships. “
It was an emotional night in which tribute was paid to Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident
Magic Johnson led the tribute to Bryant and his daughter Gianni who died three weeks ago