As expected, Kobe Bryant has been named an NBA All-Star for the sixteenth straight year and is now trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) for the most all-time appearances.
However, the Black Mamba isn’t so sure about playing in the actual game.
According to L.A. Times beat reporter Mike Bresnahan, Bryant says “with all due respect” he’d rather give the game a miss and see a younger player – such as Damian Lillard – take his spot. It’s possible Lillard may be voted in by the coaches – he’s currently averaging 21.1 points, 5.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game – though the nod will likely go to Chris Paul to actually start the game.
The commissioner of the NBA decides who replaces injured players, though it would be interesting if the players themselves were allowed to make the call instead.
Seeing as Kobe has only played in six games this season and is still working his way back from a fractured left knee, he’d rather see the younger, more “deserving” players get a shot in the big game. There’s also a possibility that Bryant simply thinks he won’t be ready to play by February 16, especially at an All-Star caliber level.
Although, it’s possible that Bryant may simply make a cameo appearance, according to Marc J. Spears from Yahoo Sports.
Despite only making half a dozen appearances on the court so far this season, Bryant accumulated a total of 988,884 votes, according to NBA.com, which makes him the second-highest backcourt player vote-getter in the Western Conference behind only Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors.
The other three Western Conference starters are Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. Interestingly, despite now playing for a team with a major following in China in the Houston Rockets, Dwight Howard didn’t make the cut, though will likely be voted in by the coaches at a later date.
Bryant’s teammate, Pau Gasol, received 247,323 votes, which is good for tenth in Western Conference frontcourt players.