69th NBA All-Star Game shines in Chicago [photos]

(Steve Floyd/MSR News) Magic Johnson speaks during a tribute to the late All-Star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna before the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020,

CHICAGO — It has taken 32 years and the loss of two iconic NBA figures the last 25 days—David Stern and Kobe Bryant—for the NBA to get back to its roots. Magic Johnson thanked the late Stern by reminding us that in 1990 he saved his life.

Do you remember when we found out Johnson had tested positive for HIV? Well, Stern embraced Johnson and let him play in the All-Star Game, even though HIV was then something we all knew very little about. Today, Johnson and millions of others have benefitted and survived. It takes God’s wisdom and leadership and education.

Kobe Bryant’s death hangs over this league now like a storm cloud. But sweet home Chicago on the city’s West Side just might be what the league needs to bring the game back.

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf refused to even bid on hosting the All-Star game in Chicago. This was the 69th NBA All-Star Game, and 1988 was the last time it was played in Chicago. The NBA rewards its best corporate clients with the best seats, and Riendsdorf wanted his top Bulls corporate sponsors to get those seats. That’s why he held out and why it’s been so long.

Chicago was ready and Common led the way. Many have grown up in Chicago and have prospered, and this world is a better place because of it. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordon—the list is long. Common, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Chadwick Boseman, Ludacris and Jennifer Hudson just to name a few, not to mention sports stars Isiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, Anthony Davis. Yes, the Chicago theme embraced this game. It’s been far too long.

Below, find photos by Steve Floyd of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game and other festivities.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the NBA All-Star Game MVP award has been named in honor of Kobe Bryant, the 18-time All-Star. Silver said the NBA has likely lost $400 million, a substantial amount because China suspended business relations after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey published a tweet in July supporting Hong Kong democracy protests. This is a result of doing business with a communist country.

Silver and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended law school together at the University of Chicago. The return to Chicago was significant and successful with a super pre-game performance by Oscar-winner and Chicago native Jennifer Hudson honoring Kobe Bryant that made the hair on your arms stand up.

Then came an electrifying performance by the NBA All-Stars, who played a throwback game. They did not just go through the motions this year. The All-Stars played with passion. They played hard with fire and determination.

The game was decided in the end by a free throw made by Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers. Team LeBron defeated team Giannis 157-155.

Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers was the game’s MVP. He had 30 points and seven rebounds. LeBron added 23, Davis had 20, Chris Paul had 23. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Both teams shot over 50%, but the greatness of this game will endure because the players carried on the true meaning and spirit of the game in my home town.