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."

Kyrie Irving returned to the court and helped the Brooklyn Nets to victory on Wednesday, while Damian Lillard continued to press his NBA All-Star claims.

In his first game since close friend Kobe Bryant's death, point guard Irving posted 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Nets prevailed 125-115 against the Detroit Pistons.

Irving, who skipped Brooklyn's last game, fought back tears as Barclays Center paid a pre-game tribute to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven victims of Sunday's helicopter crash.

Overlooked for an All-Star starting spot, Lillard boosted his hopes of being named among the reserves with a first career triple-double.

The 29-year-old tallied 36 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to take the Portland Trail Blazers to a 125-112 victory over the Houston Rockets, who were led by Russell Westbrook's 39 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Oladipo delivers in magical comeback

Victor Oladipo put 12 months of injury rehabilitation behind him with a clutch three-pointer as the Indiana Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls 115-106 in overtime. Finally recovered from a ruptured quad tendon, the former number two overall draft pick completed 21 minutes off the bench and hit a long-range shot in the closing seconds to send the game into an extra period.

DeMar DeRozan dropped a season-high 38 points on 11-of-19 shooting to see the San Antonio Spurs to a slump-busting 127-120 win over the Utah Jazz. Utah suffered their second successive loss despite Rudy Gobert's double-double and 31 points from Donovan Mitchell.

Dillon Brooks had 27 points and Jonas Valanciunas a double-double as the Memphis Grizzlies extended their winning streak to four games, defeating the New York Knicks 127-106.

 

Gordon goes cold

After hitting 50 points two days earlier, Eric Gordon came crashing back to reality in Portland. The 31-year-old guard went two-of-10 from the floor for eight points against the Trail Blazers, making just one of his eight three-point attempts.

 

Dinwiddie dazzles

Spencer Dinwiddie's 28 points against the Pistons included a neat reverse layup.

 

Wednesday's results

Indiana Pacers 115-106 Chicago Bulls
Memphis Grizzlies 127-106 New York Knicks
Brooklyn Nets 125-115 Detroit Pistons
San Antonio Spurs 127-120 Utah Jazz
Portland Trail Blazers 125-112 Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder 120-100 Sacramento Kings

 

Jazz at Nuggets

The Jazz (32-15) are back on the road on Thursday with a big Western Conference clash against the Denver Nuggets (32-15), who will be looking to rebound from their recent loss to the Grizzlies.

Kobe Bryant's sudden death has only strengthened the Los Angeles Lakers' tight bond, according to head coach Frank Vogel.

Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Vogel said it had been an "extremely emotional" and "deeply saddening" time for everyone involved with the storied franchise, with whom five-time NBA champion Bryant spent his entire 20-year career.

But after returning to training on Wednesday, having postponed their game against rivals the Los Angeles Clippers, Vogel vowed his team would grow more unified.

"I don't think it could break us apart in any way," Vogel said. "It's just a feel thing. You observe those around you, you observe your own feelings and emotions, and you proceed at the right pace at the right time."

"It's just strengthened what we've felt all year about our current group," he continued. 

"We've become a family in a very short time. It's something you talk about in the NBA with the teams, but this group in particular has grown to love each other very rapidly.

"We understand the importance and opportunity we have this year, and this has just brought us closer together."

The league's MVP in 2008 and an All-Star 18 times, Bryant wrote his name into NBA record books during his two decades in Los Angeles.

The Lakers are this season competing for their first championship since 2010 and Vogel said the team intended to do their former superstar justice.

"We want to represent what Kobe was about more than anything," he said.

"We've always wanted to make him proud and that's not going to be any different here. We want to represent what he stood for. That's the most important thing for us."

Los Angeles are due to return to the floor against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Friday.

Vanessa Bryant has thanked the "millions of people" who have expressed "support and love" following the death of her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna.

In her first public comments since Sunday's helicopter crash, Bryant published a heartfelt Instagram post describing the impact the losses have had on her young family, which includes three other girls aged under 18.

Los Angeles Lakers legend and five-time NBA champion Kobe, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna were among nine people killed in the crash in Calabasas, California.

Vanessa Bryant shared a family photo alongside her comments and used the post to announce the Mamba Sports Foundation had set up a fund to support the other families affected.

She wrote: "We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe – the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna – a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.

"We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved.

"We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.

"I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way.

"Our love for them is endless – and that's to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.

"Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality."

Joel Embiid starred for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA on Tuesday, while the Milwaukee Bucks recorded a resounding win.

Embiid made his return from a finger injury and had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the 76ers' 115-104 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The forward also wore a number 24 jersey to honour the late Kobe Bryant, who made it famous during his glittering career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Al Horford chipped in with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who improved to 31-17.

The Bucks extended their winning streak to nine by thrashing the Washington Wizards 151-131.

Without Giannis Antetokounmpo (shoulder), the Bucks had no problems against the struggling Wizards.

Khris Middleton contributed a career-high 51 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Eric Bledsoe poured in 34.

Super Siakam, Hayward steps up

Pascal Siakam's 24 points and nine rebounds helped the Toronto Raptors past the Atlanta Hawks 130-114. The Raptors have won eight straight.

Gordon Hayward guided the Boston Celtics to a 109-101 victory over the Miami Heat with 29 points and nine rebounds.

Jonas Valanciunas' 23 points and 12 rebounds saw the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Denver Nuggets 104-96.

 

Bad Bullock

Reggie Bullock went two-of-seven from the field for just six points in 28 minutes in the New York Knicks' 97-92 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Kobe tributes continue

The tributes to Bryant continued after his death in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.

The Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns took an eight-second backcourt violation and 24-second shot-clock violation in honour of the Lakers great, who wore those two numbers during his career.

The 76ers and Warriors did likewise.

Tuesday's results

Charlotte Hornets 97-92 New York Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers 115-104 Golden State Warriors
New Orleans Pelicans 125-111 Cleveland Cavaliers
Toronto Raptors 130-114 Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics 109-101 Miami Heat
Memphis Grizzlies 104-96 Denver Nuggets
Milwaukee Bucks 151-131 Washington Wizards
Phoenix Suns 133-104 Dallas Mavericks

 

Rockets at Trail Blazers

Sitting fifth in the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets (29-17) visit the Portland Trail Blazers (20-27) on Wednesday.

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