Kawhi Leonard on Winning ASG's 1st Kobe Bryant MVP Award: 'This One Is for Him'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2020

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 16: Kawhi Leonard #2 of Team LeBron celebrates with the trophy after being named the Kobe Bryant MVP during the 69th NBA All-Star Game at the United Center on February 16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Kawhi Leonard saluted Kobe Bryant after he won the NBA All-Star Game MVP Award, an honor the league named after Bryant before Sunday's game.

With Team LeBron beating Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago, the Los Angeles Clippers star was the logical candidate. During his acceptance speech, he credited Bryant with helping him reach this point.

He discussed some more of experiences with Bryant:

Leonard had a game-high 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists. The bulk of his scoring came from beyond the arc, as he was 8-of-14 on three-pointers.

Leonard and Bryant enjoyed a friendship away from the court.

Kawhi told reporters in January he spoke with Kobe after the former guided the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title last summer. Bryant also recounted in February 2016 a conversation he had with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich in which Popovich told him to shadow Leonard a bit to aid in his development.

Following his death in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, the NBA lined up a number of tributes to Bryant during All-Star Weekend.

In addition to the MVP award dedication, the teams wore No. 2 and 24 jerseys in reference to Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who also died in the crash. The "final target score" in this year's new format was set at 24 for the fourth quarter as well.

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