Kobe Bryant Hoping for Competition in His Final All-Star Game

For the 18th and final time in his storied 20-year career, Kobe Bryant is expected to suit up in the NBA All-Star Game next month in Toronto, and he doesn’t want any of his younger opponents taking it easy on him out there.

Bryant, 37, is the leading vote-getter by a wide margin and the showcase will likely turn into a Black Mamba lovefest.

Kobe, naturally, points to what Michael Jordan told him 13 years ago when Mike was stepping on the hardwood for his last ASG.

Per Yahoo! Sports:

“One thing that Michael said was, ‘Just because it’s my last All-Star Game, I don’t want you to come out there going soft on me,'” Bryant recently said. “‘I want you to play me how you would normally play me.’ I was like, ‘Mike, what do you know about me that would lead you to tell me that?’ We both got a good laugh out of that.


“The thing I remember most was the competition. Those are the things that I will always cherish. Hopefully, they will come out and compete as always this year. Those are the things I will always carry with me. Just true competition.”


Jordan was actually voted to the All-Star team as a reserve by the Eastern Conference coaches in 2003 because East guards Allen Iverson and Vince Carter were voted starters by the fans. But Carter ended up giving his East starting spot to the Hall of Famer who’s often regarded as the greatest NBA player of all time. As for Bryant, the overwhelming response by fans in his final All-Star Game is meaningful to him. […] “It’s a great honor. I didn’t expect it all. I’m very thankful for it honestly,” Bryant said.