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Kawhi Leonard wins Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award

CHICAGO – As he clutched the trophy in his hands, Kawhi Leonard stared at it. He struggled to explain what it meant to win the NBA’s first Kobe Bryant MVP Award in Sunday’s All-Star game. But Leonard told the whole story with his body language. 

“Words can’t explain how happy I am for it,” Leonard said after leading Team LeBron to a 157-155 win over Team Giannis on Sunday at United Center. “I’m able to put that trophy in my room, in my trophy room. Just to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me. He’s a big inspiration in my life. He did a lot for me.” 

Like with many other NBA players, Bryant worked out informally with Leonard and gave him countless strategic tips.

Despite that history, the Clippers forward did not enter Sunday’s game with the intent on winning the All-Star Game MVP award that the league renamed to honor the late Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash at 41 in January. After Leonard made his first two shots, though, he changed his mind, telling himself, “I’m going to try to get it.”  

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