A couple of weeks ago, the NBA made it clear that it was going to load up its All-Star Weekend with tributes to Kobe Bryant, including having the teams wear the numbers 2 and 24 on jerseys with patches that would display nine stars for each victim who died in the helicopter crash that claimed the Lakers legend), and also playing to 24-points to win the fourth quarter (see the rules rundown here if you're unaware).
Prior to Sunday's game, TNT debuted a tribute produced by L.A.'s own Dr. Dre (with assists from Jack Bannon and Gibson Hazard), showcasing highlights from Bryant's career, and ending in an instrumental of "California Love."
In addition to the tributes mentioned above, the MVP for tonight's game will be the first player to claim the award since the league decided to rename it the Kobe Bryant MVP Award. For reference, Bryant played in 18 All-Star games and won the contest's MVP Award four times.
"Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game," commissioner Adam Silver said at a press conference on Saturday, as reported by NBA.com. "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."
"I know it will be especially meaningful to that player that wins the first Kobe Bryant MVP," Silver added. "So I'm sure there will be other honors as well, and as I mentioned, there are other things that we will be discussing with our board, the NBA board, when they meet in April to honor David [Stern]. But this one seems so appropriate here at All-Star because nobody embodied All-Star more than Kobe Bryant."