Kobe tributes abound at NBA All-Star Game in Chicago

A mural of late NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Los Angeles. (AFP)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Kobe tributes abound at NBA All-Star Game in Chicago

  • All-Star teams guided by LeBron James of the Lakers and Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will compete to win each of the first three quarters

LOS ANGELES: Tributes to the late Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers legend who died last month in a helicopter crash, will play a major role in Sunday’s 69th NBA All-Star Game.

This year’s annual showcase of league talent will be played in Chicago and feature numerous nods to Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who also matched a league record with four NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player awards.

Bryant, an 18-time NBA All-Star, died at age 41 on Jan. 26 in a crash near Los Angeles that also took the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

All-Star teams guided by LeBron James of the Lakers and Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will compete to win each of the first three quarters, which will all start 0-0 and last 12 minutes.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the clock will be turned off and a final target score will be established by taking the leading club’s cumulative score through the first three quarters and adding 24 points — the number representing the jersey number worn by Bryant for the final 10 seasons of his NBA career.

The first team to reach the cumulative target score will win the NBA All-Star Game.

All-Star Game jerseys will also honor Bryant and his daughter. Team Giannis players will wear jersey No. 24 in tribute to Kobe while Team LeBron players will wear jersey No. 2, the number his daughter wore when playing youth basketball.

Both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing the nine people who were killed in the crash.

Academy Award-winning actress and Grammy Award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson, a Chicago native, will perform a special tribute to Bryant, his daughter and the others who were killed in the crash. Her performance will begin the night ahead of the player introductions.

James and Antetokounmpo each chose their squads from available starters and reserves voted and selected to the All-Star contest.

Team LeBron starters will include James, his Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, NBA scoring leader James Harden of Houston, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers and Slovenian guard Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.

Team Giannis starters include the Greek big man, Cameroon stars Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and Pascal Siakam of Toronto and guards Kemba Walker of Boston and Trae Young of Atlanta.

A record eight All-Star Game players from outside the US also include Frenchman Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz on Team Giannis and Team LeBron reserves Ben Simmons of Australia and the Philadelphia 76ers, Lithuanian Domantas Sabonis of Indiana and Serbian Nikola Jokic of Denver.


Zidane urges Real Madrid to come out fighting against Barca

Ferencvaros’ midfielders Eldar Civic and Aissa Laidouni challenge Barcelona’s forward Lionel Messi during a recent football match. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 October 2020

Zidane urges Real Madrid to come out fighting against Barca

  • Defiant coach: Players must show their character and quality at Saturday’s match

MADRID: Zinedine Zidane says he has the full support of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and has called on his players to turn their season around by beating Barcelona on Saturday.

Madrid and their coach head to Camp Nou under pressure after consecutive defeats to Cadiz in La Liga and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Asked on Friday if he still feels the backing of the club and president, Zidane said: “Yes, from everyone. I have won many things with these players and I will always be with them to the death. I will always be with them.
“But we have to change our momentum, we have had two difficult games, and that’s what this is all about. There are always bad moments but there are those teams in those moments that show their character and quality. We have to do that tomorrow.”
Zidane said Sergio Ramos will be available to face Barcelona after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of the loss to Shakhtar on Wednesday.
“Sergio is our captain, our leader,” said Zidane. “He’s recovered, he’s going to be with us. It’s about being 100 percent though and I think that Sergio is already there.”
Barcelona are also coming into the Clasico on the back of a loss in the league, although they responded to the 1-0 defeat by Getafe last weekend by winning 5-1 at home to Ferencvaros on Tuesday in the Champions League.
“In theory, both teams are under a lot of pressure,” said Ronald Koeman, who will be taking charge of his first Clasico as Barcelona coach.
“Maybe in the last couple of weeks Madrid haven’t been at their level but this doesn’t mean that they are a bad team.
“They are a big team, with experienced players, who know how to cope with the pressure, and they will want more than anyone to win this match after their two defeats.”
“I don’t expect a vulnerable Madrid, I expect the opposite,” Koeman added.
There are doubts over Antoine Griezmann, who stayed on the bench for Barca’s victory in midweek.
It was not clear whether the Frenchman had been dropped or rested. “He has a chance to play,” said Koeman.
“But it’s not good to discuss his role for every game.”
Jordi Alba has been included in the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury but it remains to be seen if the left-back is deemed ready to start.
“Always the last word is with the player,” said Koeman. “If there’s no reaction he has a good chance of playing tomorrow.”