Kobe Bryant: Greatest in All-Star history?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
When Kobe Bryant steps on the Toyota Center court Sunday, he will set the NBA All-Star Game record for starts.
If he makes two three-pointers, he’ll set that record, too. He needs three steals for that mark. Should he win his fifth game MVP, he will snap a tie with 1950s legend Bob Pettit atop that list. And he already has the standards for All-Star Game points and field goals.
The Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard may not be the greatest player in NBA history — though we’re not counting him out just yet — but he has shown time and time again that no one compares in All-Star contests. And the 34-year-old remains at the top of his game, prepared to shine yet again Sunday night (8 ET, TNT).
Here’s a look back at some of his signature performances in 13 NBA All-Star Games:
1998 in New York: Bryant was voted in as a starter despite being the Lakers’ sixth man. He joined teammates Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones (the Lakers’ starting shooting guard) on the roster. Bryant led the Western Conference with 18 points and added six rebounds, but he shot 7-for-16 from the field and was outplayed by MVP Michael Jordan, in his last season with the Chicago Bulls, as the Eastern Conference won 135-114.
2002 in Philadelphia: Bryant returned to his hometown as a two-time champion and emerging superstar. In his fourth All-Star appearance, he took home his first MVP with 31 points, five rebounds and five assists as the West won 135-120.
2007 in Las Vegas: With the West down three guards because of injuries, Bryant had his finest all-around All-Star Game performance, posting 31 points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds in 28 minutes. The shorthanded West set All-Star records with 69 field goals and 52 assists en route to a 153-132 victory, with Bryant the obvious MVP choice.
2008 in New Orleans: Bryant was nursing a torn finger ligament, and the Lakers would have preferred he sat the game out. But the NBA declined to grant him an exception to the rule that anyone who plays … [For more on Kobe Bryant: Greatest in NBA All-Star Game history?, click here.]