The first returns in voting for the All-Star Game indicate that a player making his last appearance figures to start.
Fans checked Kobe Bryant more than any other player on All-Star Game ballots. The 20-year Lakers veteran received more votes than Stephen Curry, LeBron James, or anyone else in the NBA despite struggling in his swan-song season. Bryant averages 17 points per game but struggles from the field at 34.5 percent.
Bryant’s 719,235 votes exceeds Curry’s ballots by more than 200,000 votes and more than doubles the haul of Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. If the balloting ended today, Bryant would start alongside Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Curry on a center-less Western Conference team. Starters for the East at this points are Dwyane Wade, James, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, and Andre Drummond.
Kobe seems as surprised as anyone by the support.
“I was like, ‘What the hell?’ Bryant told reporters last night. “‘Shocked’ doesn’t do it justice.”
The Lakers lost to their hometown rivals on Christmas to drop to 5-25. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers offers no complaints about Bryant beating out Blake Griffin in the balloting.