In Chicago last weekend, the NBA All-Star Game kept coming back to Kobe.
His presence was all around us. Fans wore his jersey and chanted his name at airports, restaurants and the United Center. Kobe was remembered at one gathering as the Oscar-winning storyteller who believed the emotion of basketball is what makes it so compelling to watch. President Obama reflected on how difficult it is to accept the loss because Kobe was doing what so many parents do: taking his daughter, Gianna, to practice and dreaming only the best for her.
Combined with reflections from current players and legends — from LeBron James to Sue Bird to Magic Johnson — All-Star weekend became a way to honor Kobe’s impact on the game. Coming of age shortly after the advent of the internet, he was one of our first truly global players. His devotion to winning inspired people, in all walks of life, to compete to the best of their abilities. He imparted his legendary work ethic on the next generation of players who idolized him and imitated his moves.
By the time we walked into the United Center last Sunday, we knew something special was about to happen. There was Jennifer Hudson’s powerful tribute, Common and Chance the Rapper’s remarkable performances and the All-Stars all wearing either 24 or 2 — Kobe and Gianna’s numbers — and a jersey patch displaying nine stars representing them and their seven friends.
When the ball tipped, the All-Stars played like Kobe. The fourth quarter of the All-Star Game was one of the most competitive I can remember. It was a fitting tribute because nobody embodied All-Star more than Kobe. He set a record with 18 consecutive All-Star appearances and earned All-Star Game MVP a record-tying four times. And as we concluded an emotional week in Chicago, we awarded the first ever All-Star Game “Kobe Bryant” MVP Award. He will not be forgotten.
Adam Silver is the commissioner of the NBA.