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.


Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

Updated 34 min 10 sec ago

Saudi Cup ‘double or nothing’ with two horses in $20m race for leading agent Ted Voute

  • Voute has been responsible for the purchase of six horses featuring in this weekend’s Saudi Cup meet
  • Since 1986 Voute has produced horses for the world’s premier sales on behalf of the some of the best-known breeders

LONDON: Securing a win in Saturday's $20 million Saudi Cup would be one of British bloodstock agent Ted Voute’s “greatest” achievements, the leading consignor said in the build-up to the world’s richest race.

Voute has been responsible for the purchase of six horses featuring in this weekend’s Saudi Cup meet, including two in the headline race.

Mjjack, a recent winner of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, as well as Great Scot, were bought from the UK for owner Prince Faisal bin Khaled bin Abdul Aziz.

“Great Scot gets in (to the Saudi Cup) by virtue of being the highest-rated horse in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I bought him late last year from Tom Dascombe in England. He hasn’t started there yet, but he’s a lovely horse,” Voute told Arab News.

“The other horse, Mjjack, I bought a couple of years ago. He won the King’s Cup (on Feb. 8), which gave him a free place, so I’m particularly proud of those two runners.

“It would be right up there if I bought the first Saudi Cup winner, it would be one of the greatest things I had ever done,” he added.

Since 1986 Voute has produced horses for the world’s premier sales on behalf of the some of the best-known breeders. In the past three decades, his consistent results in the sales ring and on the track have confirmed him as one of Europe’s leading consignors.

Voute has also bought several horses for another Saudi owner, Prince A.A. Faisal, including Mishriff, which runs in the Saudi Derby, one of the races going off before the Saudi Cup.

“From the prince’s point of view, Mishriff is named after a good friend of his who died and it would mean an immense amount to him (if the horse won),” he said. “It would be a wonderful story if, in his first race back as a three-year-old, he wins the Saudi derby as a preparation race to a Classic run.”

With several clients in Saudi Arabia, Voute is well placed to comment on the achievement by Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, in setting up a top-class racing meet in such a short time.

“It’s amazing, really, I don’t think there has been a day with that much prize money in history. It has definitely grabbed people’s attention,” he said. “I was in a taxi from the airport with the trainer of Maximum Security, and (he said) he got a passport for the first time to travel outside the US to be in Saudi Arabia, which I thought was fantastic.

“To think this was only an idea not even a year ago. I saw Prince Bandar at Royal Ascot, and I think that’s where (Saudi Arabia) made the decision — and it’s just unbelievable what they’ve done from June to now. A lot of wealthy owners will venture out to Saudi Arabia and see what a wonderful country it is.

“It will show people they can travel in winter and pick up these sorts of races and prize money; it will really put Saudi Arabia on the calendar as a stepping stone to one of the European Classics,” he said.