All-Star MVP trophy will now bear Bryant's name

The NBA world has been overwhelmed by sadness since the Jan. 26 helicopter accident that claimed the lives of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.

The league will try to add some celebration to Bryant's memory by naming the All-Star MVP trophy in his honor. The announcement was made by Commissioner Adam Silver at the United Center before All-Star Saturday night. Bryant won four All-Star MVP awards, while playing in the game 18 times.

"This one seems so appropriate here at all-star because nobody embodied all-star more than Kobe Bryant," Silver said.

Saturday's event began with a request for 24.2 seconds of cheering to honor the memory of Bryant and Gianna.

Silver also had plenty to say about former commissioner David Stern, who died on Jan. 1 at 77. Stern is widely credited for expanding the popularity of the NBA during his tenure from 1984-2014.

"He was a force of nature for those who got to work for him," Silver said. "When he came to the league, first as the general counsel in the late 70s and as the commissioner in 1984, it was time when our Finals were still on tape delay. He had a vision for this league and what it could become. He had a belief that this league can be truly global."

The question-and-answer session didn't offer much spontaneity, but Silver touched on a few other relevant topics. He believes the league's relationship with China will return to business as usual in time. There hasn't been much movement recently with China focused on the coronavirus epidemic.

Silver said NBA games are being streamed in China but not shown by government broadcaster CCTV. The relationship took a nose-dive last year when Chinese officials took offense to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey retweeting a show of support for Hong Kong protesters. Silver estimated the loss of revenue in the "hundreds of millions."

"We accept the consequences of our system and our values," he said. "It's not a position any business wants to be in, but those are the results."

Silver said proposals for a European-style, in-season tournament and play-in games for the postseason are still under discussion. Addressing declining television ratings, Silver talked about the challenge of reaching the league's younger fans, who are trending away from traditional pay television.

"I think it's a very solvable problem," Silver said. "It's not an issue unique to the NBA."

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  Commissioner Adam Silver talks to the press Saturday, Feb. 15 at the United Center in Chicago. Brian Hill/
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