Emmanuel Sanders will remember Kobe Bryant at Super Bowl LIV as the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver shared pictures of his custom cleats.

NBA great Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in California last weekend.

Both the NFL and Super Bowl half-time acts Shakira and Jennifer Lopez are expected to remember Bryant's life in Miami on Sunday when the Niners face the Kansas City Chiefs.

The day before the sport's showpiece event, Sanders revealed details of a personal tribute, uploading images of red and gold cleats with a picture of Bryant, the words 'rest in peace' and the numbers 24 and 8, which adorned his jersey when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Alongside the images, Sanders wrote the Bryant quote: "I'll do whatever it takes to win. Whether it's sitting on the bench waiving a towel. Handing out cups of water to my teammates or hitting the game winning shot.”

Kyrie Irving put his stunning performance against the Chicago Bulls down to having a "Kobe mentality" after he scored a season-high 54 points on Friday.

The point guard made 19 of his 23 shot attempts in the Brooklyn Nets' 133-118 home victory - including hitting 10 in a row in the first half - as he surpassed his 50-point haul against the Minnesota Timberwolves back in October.

Irving revealed he was inspired by friend Kobe Bryant - who died in a helicopter crash last Sunday - after finishing with an astonishing 82.6 shooting percentage from the field.

He was also spurred on by the raucous support inside a sold-out Barclays Center, with chants of "MVP" from the crowd after the 27-year-old made a pair of free throws with just under four minutes remaining.

"I'm just happy to be back playing the game I love the most," Irving said in his on-court interview with YES Network.

"The most beautiful sound is just hearing these fans out here, having my family here, it just makes it all worth it

"The decision to come back home is well worth it. I'm cemented, I'm here, I'm grounded, I'm rooted. Just happy.

"I'm happy for my team-mates as well, they did a great job of giving me confidence. I hit a few shots in the first half and had to keep it going. The Kobe mentality, the Mamba mentality, is to keep going. It's all good."

Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 20 points off the bench while Taurean Prince, Jarrett Allen and Garrett Temple also reached double figures for the Nets, who improved to 21-26 for the season.

LeBron James feels Kobe Bryant was the happiest he had ever been following his retirement from basketball, as it allowed him to devote time to his family.

Bryant ended his 20-year NBA career in 2016 at the age of 38, having won five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was also named the league's MVP in 2008 and was an 18-time All-Star.

The Lakers legend spent much of his post-playing days with his wife and four children before his death on Sunday. The 41-year-old, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in California.

James gave an emotional speech inside the Staples Center on Friday prior to tip-off in the team's first game since Bryant's death, describing him as a "brother".

The 35-year-old knows all too well the sacrifices that have to be made to reach the top in professional sport, as he explained to the media after the 127-119 defeat against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"These last three years, out of all the success he had – five rings, multiple MVPs, All-Star Game MVP of this league, first team for all-life, all-world, all-basketball – felt like these last three years were the happiest I've ever seen him," James said of Bryant.

"Being able to just be with his daughters, be with his family, because when we're playing this game of basketball, we give so much to it. This is my 17th year, so I know.

"Unfortunately, your family comes to the wayside at times, because when you want to be great at something, when you want to be the best at something, you become so driven that you won't let anything stand in the way of it. Not even your own family sometimes.

"We get compared all the time to greatness, and that makes us even more driven and shadowed away from our own family. That's the difficult part that we deal with as professional athletes and when you want to be great.

"To see him these last three years, and to see the #girldad these last few days, it just puts everything in perspective. Yes, it's a beautiful game, it's taken us all over the world and given us so many things that we can never ever complain about, or never be in another position to accomplish this, from you guys writing the stories to playing the game, we are all covering it all over the world.

"But, at the end of the day, we all punch our clocks. Either we're done for the day, or done doing what we are doing, but just make sure you hug the s*** out of your family.

"If you've got kids, tell them you love them. Try to make it to as much as you can, and don't feel bad if you happen to go to one of your loved one's events, or something like that, and sacrifice your job.

"I didn't feel bad in Boston when I went to go and see my son two hours away in Springfield and we [the Lakers] had a game that night and got our ass kicked. I didn't feel bad at all."

LeBron James shed tears, Usher sang 'Amazing Grace' and Staples Center fell silent in reverence to Kobe Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the floor on Friday.

Fans crowded outside the venue and those inside, including the players, donned replica Bryant jerseys amid heartfelt tributes to a franchise legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

An emotional video played on the big screen and a 24.2 second moment of silence was taken to honour all seven victims of Sunday's helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

James read their names and gave a speech asking for the event to be a "celebration" of Bryant before the on-court action against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers began.

After a subdued start, Damian Lillard lifted the energy in the third quarter, hitting 23 points en route to a game-high 48 to issue the Lakers a 127-119 loss.

Lillard became the first NBA player to make 40 three-point shots in a five-game span and the first to record at least 35 points, five rebounds, five assists and five three-pointers in five straight games.

Irving inspires Nets, Nuggets upset Bucks

On the other side of the country, an inspired Kyrie Irving paid a personal tribute to his old mentor in fitting fashion.

The Brooklyn Nets guard, who earlier in the week vowed to "carry the torch", shot 19-of-23 from the floor and hit seven three-pointers as he tallied 54 points, five rebounds and five assists in a 133-118 win over the Chicago Bulls.

James Harden (35 points, 16 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook (32 points, nine assists) did likewise, the pair leading the Houston Rockets to a 128-121 victory against the Dallas Mavericks, who were without the injured Luka Doncic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo played his part, putting up 31 points in a double-double at Fiserv Forum, but the Milwaukee Bucks failed to prolong their nine-game winning run, losing to the Denver Nuggets 127-115.

The Toronto Raptors had more success preserving a streak, recording a 10th successive victory thanks to Pascal Siakam's 30 points in a 105-92 road win over the Detroit Pistons.

Zion Williamson posted a career-high 24 points in 29 minutes to outscore draft rival Ja Morant at Smoothie King Center, the New Orleans Pelicans topping the Memphis Grizzlies 139-111.

 

Rubio struggles in Suns loss

The Phoenix Suns might have avoided a late 111-107 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder had Ricky Rubio made more of his shooting opportunities, the Spaniard going two-of-eight from the floor for eight points in 30 minutes.

 

Lillard too hot for Lakers

The Lakers simply could not stop Lillard, the All-Star reserve delivering a clinic in long-range shooting.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 105-92 Detroit Pistons
Houston Rockets 128-121 Dallas Mavericks
Brooklyn Nets 133-118 Chicago Bulls
New Orleans Pelicans 139-111 Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City Thunder 111-107 Phoenix Suns
Denver Nuggets 127-115 Milwaukee Bucks
Portland Trail Blazers 127-119 Los Angeles Lakers

 

76ers at Celtics

Due to knee soreness, the Boston Celtics (32-15) could be without Kemba Walker for Saturday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers (31-18).

LeBron James unveiled a "Mamba 4 Life" tattoo after the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Lakers superstar James, who surpassed five-time NBA champion and 2008 MVP Bryant for third on the all-time points list on Saturday, has been hit hard by the tragedy.

In a lasting tribute to Bryant, James used Instagram to unveil his tattoo: a black snake, a flower, with the numbers 24 and 8 – worn by the Lakers legend – above the writing "Mamba 4 Life".

James and the Lakers are preparing to play for the first time on Friday since the tragedy – a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Tuesday's showdown with neighbours the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center was postponed.

It comes as the NBA continues to honour Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other victims.

On Friday, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced the 2020 All-Star uniforms will pay tribute to the pair.

Team LeBron (James) will wear number two and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) number 24 – Gianna and Kobe's basketball jersey numbers respectively.

In addition, both teams will wear jersey patches displaying nine stars, representing those who lost their lives in the crash.

The All-Star Game will take place at the United Center in Chicago on February 16.

Luka Doncic will miss at least the Dallas Mavericks' next six games, head coach Rick Carlisle has revealed.

MVP candidate Doncic suffered a right ankle sprain in practice on Thursday and was ruled out of the game against the Houston Rockets the following day.

The 20-year-old sprained the same ankle in December, missing four games, but Carlisle was unable to offer an immediate estimate for his return this time.

However, speaking on his show on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Friday, the coach had an update, saying: "He'll miss the next six games, for sure."

The 29-18 Mavs are fifth in the West but look set to be without Doncic against the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets, as well as the Rockets.

Dallas then face the Utah Jazz on February 10.

Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists in his second NBA season.

Zion Williamson and Luka Doncic headline the rosters for the NBA Rising Stars Game at the All-Star weekend.

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Williamson with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, but a knee injury meant he only made his debut last week.

He was selected by the NBA for the United States team to replace the injured Wendell Carter Jr, who is not expected to be back in action until after the All-Star break.

Williamson is joined by Trae Young and will go up against a World team that includes Doncic in Chicago on February 14.

Young and Doncic will be making their All-Star debuts at United Center, while Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ja Morant was also among the first and second-year players named.

 

USA: Trae Young, Zion Williamson, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, Devonte' Graham, Wendell Carter Jr, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Eric Paschall, Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr.

World: Luka Doncic, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Deandre Ayton, RJ Barrett, Brandon Clarke, Shai Gilgeous-Alexaner, Rui Hachimura, Svi Mykhailiuk, Josh Okogie, Moritz Wagner.

Bradley Beal could not hide his anger over being snubbed in the NBA All-Star selection, describing himself as "p****d off".

The two-time All-Star was overlooked as the reserve list was revealed on Thursday, the Washington Wizards guard joining Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker as a notable absentee.

When asked about the matter following the Wizards' 121-107 win over the Charlotte Hornets, Beal did not hold back.

"I'm a little p****d off about it," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I know how I am, [so] I was kind of expecting it, honestly.

"It's disrespectful, but the real ones know [I'm an All-Star]. I'll just keep competing. I'm going to try to get my team in the playoffs for sure."

Beal's agent jumped to the 26-year-old's defence, also citing his loyalty to the Wizards after he signed a new deal in pre-season.

"It's just very frustrating and disappointing for a guy to put up historic numbers, and he made the conscious decision this summer to stay the course and to play his heart out with great leadership to build something in Washington, as opposed to jumping ship to take an easier path," Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.

The statistics show Beal has a strong case to have been included, with his average of 28.7 points per game putting him sixth overall.

He beat that average against the Hornets, putting up 34 points, with nine rebounds and nine assists. 

Trae Young almost single-handedly stunned the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Thursday, while the Los Angeles Clippers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant.

Named an All-Star starter ahead of Ben Simmons, 21-year-old guard Young outshone his fellow Eastern Conference star as the Atlanta Hawks topped the 76ers 127-117.

Young had a double-double before the first quarter ended and finished with 39 points and a career-high 18 assists in the upset, while Simmons went 10-of-15 from the field for a team-high 31 points.

The Clippers set rivalries aside before their clash with the Sacramento Kings to honour Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven people killed in Sunday's helicopter crash.

Paul George narrated a moving video that was broadcast before 24 seconds of silence while Bryant's old Lakers jerseys, normally covered during Clippers games at Staples Center, were left visible.

Sacramento went on to win 124-103 as Kawhi Leonard, who was involved in the warm-up, failed to play a minute due to lower back tightness.

 

Tatum makes successful Celtics comeback

Jayson Tatum returned after three games out with a groin injury and celebrated his first All-Star nod in fitting fashion, contributing 20 points, six rebounds and two assists as the Boston Celtics topped the Golden State Warriors 119-104.

Nikola Jokic delivered 28 points and 10 assists to drag the injury hit Denver Nuggets to a 106-100 victory against the fast-finishing Utah Jazz, who were led by Jordan Clarkson's 37 points.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal proved a point to those who overlooked him for a place in the All-Star Game in Chicago, posting 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a 121-107 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Clippers cold after losing Kawhi

The Clippers did not officially rule two-time NBA champion Leonard out of their game against the Kings until midway through the contest.

His absence seemed to unnerve the rest of the team, who combined to shoot just 35-of-92 from the field.

 

Sweet slam a consolation for Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers were at least able to enjoy a monster Larry Nance Jr. dunk as they suffered a 115-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

 

Thursday's results

Toronto Raptors 115-109 Cleveland Cavaliers
Washington Wizards 121-107 Charlotte Hornets
Atlanta Hawks 127-117 Philadelphia 76ers
Boston Celtics 119-104 Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings 124-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Denver Nuggets 106-100 Utah Jazz

 

Trail Blazers at Lakers

Staples Center will be the scene for another emotional outpouring on Friday as the Lakers (36-10) hit the floor for the first time since Bryant's death. The Western Conference leaders take on Carmelo Anthony and the Portland Trail Blazers (21-27).

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic faces another spell on the sidelines after reinjuring his problematic right ankle on Thursday.

The newly selected All-Star suffered another sprain in practice and will miss Friday's game against the Houston Rockets.

Dallas expect to have a clearer picture of the problem once Doncic, 20, undergoes an MRI.

"Luka turned his right ankle in practice," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in quotes published on the team's website.

"He's getting treatment right now. We don't know the status. We obviously hope it's not serious. But we don't know."

Doncic missed four games after spraining the same ankle during an overtime loss to the Miami Heat in December.

Whether the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year will be fit to start his first All-Star Game on February 16 remains unclear.

Veteran guard J.J. Barea said: "Stuff happens. Playing hard basketball and stepped on somebody. We hate it that it happened at the end of practice to Luka.

"But he's a tough kid. We'll see what happens, but hopefully it won't be that long."

In his second NBA season, MVP candidate Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists.

The Mavs could also be without Tim Hardaway Jr. against the Rockets after listing him as questionable due to tightness in the lower back region.

Devin Booker was the most notable omission as six first-timers won NBA All-Star selection among the 14 reserves named on Thursday.

Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook headlined the list of players selected by NBA coaches to round out the roster options for Team LeBron and Team Giannis.

Phoenix Suns guard Booker was denied a place despite averaging 27.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 44 games this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder veteran Paul, Houston Rockets star Westbrook, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz youngster Donovan Mitchell snatched Western Conference guard spots, the latter handed his maiden selection alongside team-mate and fellow first-timer Rudy Gobert.

Brandon Ingram, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis will also be among the newcomers at United Center in Chicago on February 16.

Suns general manager and three-time NBA champion James Jones questioned Booker's absence.

"I've played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star," Jones said in a statement.

Frenchman Gobert's inclusion alongside Sabonis (Lithuania), Ben Simmons (Australia) and Nikola Jokic (Serbia) plus starters Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) lifts the number of international players to eight, a record for an All-Star Game.

The 2020 edition will feature several format changes to honour Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Among them will be a 'target score' to chase in a timeless fourth quarter, the figure being the leading team's tally after three periods plus 24 points - representing the number Bryant wore during the second half of his glittering NBA career.

LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, the designated captains, will select their teams from the available player pool on February 6.

 

Eastern Conference reserves:

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)

Western Conference reserves:

Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Kobe Bryant was the "most inspirational athlete of our time" and "the best friend anyone could ever imagine," his former agent and Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.

Pelinka issued a heartfelt statement on Thursday remembering Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Pelinka, 50, developed a close relationship with five-time NBA champion Bryant throughout their long association and was Gianna's godfather.

He described their deaths as being "an amputation of part of my soul."

"Kobe was a force of nature, deep and obsessed with excellence," the Lakers GM said in the statement.

"He was wise, determined, passionate. A visionary beyond measure. A dedicated and loving husband, and a 'girl-dad' like no other.

"When he walked into a room, the energy ignited. He was high voltage, with a motor that had no limits. His mind had an infinite capacity to learn. He was, simply put, the most inspirational athlete of our time.

"What the world may not know is that he was also the best friend anyone could ever imagine.

"Gigi was pure joy. Her smile brought comfort to any and every occasion. She was brilliant, kind and warm.

"And, like her dad, when she stepped onto the basketball court, she took on an entirely different nature, and boy could she play. Her basketball destiny was apparent, and the world knew it.

"She was also an extraordinary, loyal and supportive sister, and a wonderful friend to my children. My son and daughter always left time with Gigi feeling better about life itself. Everything Gigi stood for, I am so proud of."

Pelinka described the nine deaths as leaving "an irreplaceable void" for those who knew them and vowed to carry on Bryant and Gianna's legacies.

The Lakers, who will return to the floor against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, have used their website to promote the Mamba Sports Foundation's MambaOnThree Fund, set up to financially support the families affected by the tragedy.

Kobe Bryant will be honoured in the format of the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced on Thursday.

The annual All-Star Game takes place in Chicago on February 16, with the East captained by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the West led by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

And the NBA has confirmed a number of alterations to the format of the game - one of which will honour Lakers legend Bryant who, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in California last week.

Each of the first three quarters will act as a minigame starting from 0-0, with the winner of each 12-minute period seeing $100,000 donated to their designated community charity in Chicago.

At the end of the third quarter, the accumulative scores will be calculated and a 'target score', which will be 24 points greater than the leading team's tally, will be set for the fourth and final period.

This is a tribute to Bryant, who famously wore the 24 jersey for the Lakers, along with the number eight, during his career.

The fourth quarter has no time limit and will only end when the 'target score' is reached by either team, this time seeing $200,000 given to charity on behalf of the victors.

NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said: "We spent a lot of time considering the right target number to use for the fourth quarter.

"Through the events of this week, it became clear to us that the only appropriate number for this season's All-Star Game is 24."

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving vowed to "continue to carry the torch" following the death of his close friend and mentor Kobe Bryant.

Irving sat out the Nets' 110-97 defeat to New York Knicks at the weekend to grieve the loss of NBA great Bryant, who was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

The 27-year-old returned to the court on Wednesday and posted 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Nets prevailed 125-115 against the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center.

After inspiring his side to victory, Irving paid a tearful tribute to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other people that tragically died.

"It's just hard to even conjure up the words," he told ESPN. "You try to find a clear-cut message that you would send to Gigi and Kobe and everybody that lost their lives in such a tragedy like that. It's hard, you know. It's hard

"I've been trying to do this the last few days, just trying to getting ready for a moment like this. But I just gotta let it be, let it flow. I know he's there watching, as well as Gigi, as well as the young ballplayers that were on the plane.

"I was just with them at the Mamba Academy working out with them in the summertime, as well. Those young girls losing their lives. So it's heartbreaking for all of us. But I'm not the only one dealing with something. 

"I think the most beautiful thing is that it's connecting all of us. And his seeds that he's planted in all of us will continue to grow. his legacy is gonna live on forever, obviously.

"That man was a philosopher. He was a teacher. He left so many great things here for us to follow, and I’m just gonna continue to carry the torch."

The Nets paid a pre-game tribute that included a two-minute video, while two courtside seats were left vacant for Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Irving was visibly emotional before the match and pointed to the sky as he left the court late in the fourth.

"Out there on the court, I am not the only one that is hurting," he told reporters post-game.

"I don't want to make this about me and just our relationship because we all shared something really, really strong with him.

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I had that mentorship relationship with him, where I was able to ask him almost anything. 

"You know no matter how nervous I was or how fearful I was, he was just easy to approach with those type of questions.

"The ones about what goes on in the day-in and day-out basis of chasing something that's bigger than yourself and when you're trying to leave a legacy or something of a mark on a game."

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