NBA executives certainly didn't take it for granted that Kobe Bryant was involved in any aspect of the All-Star weekend. Bryant's documentary about his life, "Dear Basketball," set the stage by playing on ESPN before the All-Star Game tipoff.
The pregame ceremony was a tribute to Bryant, starting with an introduction from the Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol. LeBron James welcomed his rival Dwyane Wade back to the All-Star Game and even welcomed him to a hug after welcoming Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks star, to the game.
Then Bryant participated in the All-Star skills competition, a thrilling event to watch. Bryant defeated Victor Oladipo, the Pacers guard, with a final-lap pass from behind the backboard to Erik Gordon of the Suns. Bryant also participated in the 3-point shooting contest and beat Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers, while knocking down 44 of the 52 shots on the first day of All-Star weekend. He finished with 36 points, including an NBA-record 13 3-pointers.
Bryant, who is retiring after the season, was given a standing ovation at Staples Center. There were many emotional tributes during the game, all in tribute to Bryant. It was a fitting end to an All-Star weekend filled with celebration and emotion.