Magic leads tribute for Kobe, Stern, All-Star Game underway

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CHICAGO (AP) – The Latest on Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

One more All-Star ovation for Kobe Bryant. And big cheers for David Stern, too.

Hall of Famer Magic Johnson led a tribute to the late Los Angeles Lakers great and longtime commissioner prior to the All-Star game on Sunday night.

Johnson led the crowd – which chanted “Kobe! Kobe!” – in an eight-second moment of silence, a nod to the number Bryant wore the first half of his career.

Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson also performed as images of Bryant flashed on a giant screen behind the stage. South Side product Common followed with a rap dedicated to the great players from the city as well as Bryant before leading the introductions of players. Then singer-songwriter Chaka Khan sang the national anthem.

The festivities were in Michael Jordan’s longtime home of Chicago for the first time since 1988. But Bryant cast a huge shadow over them.

The five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the nine people killed three weeks ago when their helicopter crashed into a mountainside near Los Angeles.

The game is underway and players on Team LeBron are wearing Gianna’s No. 2 on their jersey, and members of Team Giannis are wearing Kobe’s No. 24. All players also are wearing a patch with nine stars in honor of the victims of the crash.

The league is also trying to come to grips with the death of Stern, who helped turn the NBA into a global powerhouse, on Jan. 1 following a brain hemorrhage a few weeks earlier.

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Jennifer Hudson sings a tribute to former NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna who were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, before the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Huh)
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