The Lakers star said he chose Gianna Bryant’s number because of his daughter, Zhuri.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who was voted one of the captains for the exhibition game, was given the choice of jersey number for his team to wear. James chose No. 2, which Gianna wore on her youth team.
When asked why on Monday, he said “Zhuri,” referring to his 5-year-old daughter.
The other team, which will be led by Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, will wear No. 24 in Kobe’s honor.
LeBron James talks about why he chose the No. 2 jersey for the All-Star game and how the team can move forward. pic.twitter.com/V83Toecdkg
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 3, 2020
Gianna Bryant, who was 13, was a standout basketball player who wanted to carry on her father’s legacy and dreamed of one day playing in the WNBA.
The NBA community has been grieving since the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed nine people, including Kobe and Gianna Bryant. James got a “Mamba 4 Life” tattoo to honor Kobe Bryant, but acknowledged Monday that the feeling of grief is strong.
“Every game is going to be emotional. … We gotta continue to push forward because that’s what he’d want us to do,” he said.
The league has already found creative ways to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, including teams taking eight-second backcourt violations and 24-second shot-clock violations in honor of the two numbers Bryant wore before he retired.
When asked about his friend, James said Kobe Bryant was a “legend.”
“The impact that he made both on the floor and off the floor, being able to inspire people. Inspire people older than him. Inspire people younger than him,” he said.
“He’s a legend and legends never die, obviously,” he added.