With Kobe Bryant in the final season of his NBA career and the Los Angeles Lakers struggling through a rough season, there’s been a lot of questions about whether or not Bryant will play in the All-Star Game for a final time. It would be Bryant’s 18th appearance, one behind the record held by fellow Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Bryant could be voted in by the fans, or selected by the players, despite his shooting 32 percent on the season (despite a terrific four-game stretch where he has shot 47 percent from the field and played at a very high level). If he makes it, he’ll be happy, but he also told reporters Wednesday that if it doesn’t happen, he’s fine with it. From ESPN.com:
“I mean it would be great to play in it. If I’m not in it, I’m not going to beat myself up over that either,” Bryant said after practice at the team’s facility Wednesday. “I’ll support the game no matter what. Support the players no matter what.”
“It would be great, but at the same time I’ve played in a lot of them, so it’s always great to have the younger guys step up and get their opportunities as well,” Bryant said. “I’ve played in quite a few. If I’m fortunate to be there, I’ll be extremely grateful for that. If I’m not, at the same token, I’ll be extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.”
This is really classy of Bryant to say.
Also, it does not matter at all because he is definitely going to play in this game.
Whether the fans vote him in, which you can just about bet is a sure thing, or the coaches select him, he will be in the game. No matter the impact that someone getting passed over could have on their careers or their contracts, everyone involved in the game, and especially the fans, want to see him in the event in Toronto, which is, after all, for the fans.
He’ll make it, but it’s really great that he’s willing to say that.
Of note, Bryant was included in the voting as a frontcourt player due to the minutes he’s played at small forward this season. That could realistically threaten his chances of starting, given the existence of Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant, but given the desire for fans to recognize what he’s done, and the fact that not only are the Lakers the most popular team in the league, but Bryant is practically a demi-god in China, you can still expect Bryant to make a strong push.