"Gotta happen, (I don't care) what anyone says," Irving wrote in an Instagram post. "Black kings built the league."
Irving and Bryant were longtime friends and worked out together at the latter's basketball academy in Thousand Oaks. The two competed against each other for the first time Jan. 13, 2012 - Irving's rookie season - but developed a friendship later that year in July when Irving challenged Bryant to a one-on-one game during a Team USA camp.
The NBA logo has featured the silhouette of another former Lakers star, Jerry West, since 1969. It hasn't been markedly changed since, aside from a minor refresh in 2017.
Bryant died Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed into a mountain in Calabasas, California. The accident killed all nine people on board, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Federal investigators determined earlier this month that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, had become disoriented while attempting to fly amid severe foggy conditions, according to Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times.