The league had already revealed a few ways it would attempt to pay tribute to Kobe at the 2020 NBA All-Star game in Chicago on Feb. 16, but on Friday the NBA announced a few more things it would do to honor Kobe, Gianna and the seven other people that lost their lives in the helicopter crash:
The NBA, NBPA and Nike announced today that the 2020 NBA All-Star uniforms will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and their seven friends and teammates who tragically passed away in last Sunday’s helicopter accident. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will feature Team LeBron (James) wearing the No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) wearing the No. 24 – Gianna and Kobe’s basketball jersey numbers, respectively.
In addition, both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing those who lost their lives in the crash, including John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan.
On Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET, the league’s best rookies and sophomores will take the court during NBA Rising Stars, all wearing jersey patches featuring the Nos. 2 and 24 in the center surrounded by nine stars. The same patch will be worn by the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night participants competing in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and AT&T Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.
The idea of both All-Star teams wearing Nos. 8 and 24 — both of Bryant’s retired numbers he wore during his career — had been floated around in recent days, but it seems the NBA also wanted to pay tribute to one of its biggest fans, Gianna Bryant, in addition to the seven other crash victims. The NBA and NBPA deserve a lot of credit for checking all of the boxes in a way that feels meaningful.
The patches are something that may be adopted by the Lakers as well, even if they’re not the same patches as the ones teams will wear in the All-Star game. When legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away in 2013, the team wore a “JB” pass on their jerseys. The Portland Trail Blazers did something similar for their late owner Paul Allen in 2018. Additionally, teams across the league are currently wearing black bands on their jerseys in honor of former NBA commissioner David Stern, who passed away in January.
There is no single right way to honor the victims of the helicopter crash, but there are definitely good ways, and every team in the NBA has done a tremendous job of honoring one of the best players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers. It’s nice to see the league is following suit.