Having played in only six games so far this season, Kobe Bryant appreciates the fans’ undying love for him, but he doesn’t think he deserves to appear in the NBA All-Star Game next month. The injured Bryant urges voters to choose younger, healthier stars instead. Per the AP:
“Even though there’s so much respect that comes from me to be able to play for the fans, I’d much rather see the young guys go out there and play in the game,” Bryant said before the Lakers faced Denver on Sunday night. “They’ve obviously put the work in to be there that weekend, so I’d much rather see them go in there and participate.”
Although Bryant won’t mind at all if fans pass on him this time, that doesn’t look likely so far: Bryant was the second-leading vote-getter in the Western Conference in vote totals released by the NBA on Dec. 26 with 723,031 votes, trailing only LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the overall balloting.
“That’s obviously a sensitive topic for me personally, because you want to feel like you deserve to be in the game and play,” Bryant said. “But then there’s the other side of the argument where you’ve put in a lot of work over the years, and (if) fans vote you in, you want to go out there and show your appreciation and respect to them. I think it’s always a delicate balance, but from where I come from, I really enjoy watching what the young guys are doing and how they’re performing.”
“I probably won’t be able to come back (to the Lakers) soon enough to be able to make my stamp or be able to make my mark on a game,” Bryant said. “So my advice would be to focus on younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they’re more than deserving to be out there and playing that weekend.”