by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

From the opening tip, it was clear that Kobe Bryant intended to win the All-Star Game, and above all, the MVP award. In what he considers his final ASG in front of an LA crowd, Bryant wanted to put on a show, and he did.

Players on both teams last night knew what was up, and save for the Eastern Conference’s furious push late in the second half, they stayed out of the hometown hero’s way.

Afterward, all in good fun, Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade told the assembled media what everyone had on their minds regarding the evening’s biggest star:

“You could tell from the start he wanted to get the MVP,” said Amar’e Stoudemire. “He was not passing the ball at all. That’s Kobe.”

“Kobe was going for MVP tonight,” Dwyane Wade said. “It was that obvious. I think my three-year-old son knew it.”

It was Kobe Bryant’s fourth All-Star Game MVP, tying him with Bob Pettit for most all-time. He’s also now just 18 points shy of Michael Jordan’s record for career All-Star points (262).

KB24 insisted that he’s had his time, and that now it’s up to the younger guys to carry the NBA torch forward. After last night, it’s clear that he’s not quite ready to give up the throne just yet.