Los Angeles Lakers star gets his 16th call up despite being out with injury.
Kobe Bryant, sidelined by injury for all but six games this season, gained a 16th NBA All-Star nod in fan voting, but indicated he’d rather skip the mid-season exhibition.
“With all due respect to the fans that voted me in, I certainly appreciate that, they know how much I appreciate that, but you’ve got to do the right thing as well,” Bryant said shortly before watching his Lakers fall 109-102 to the Miami Heat.
“My fans know you got to reward these young guys for the work that they’ve been putting in,” Bryant added in comments reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The NBA had announced the results of worldwide fan voting for the All-Star starters on Thursday afternoon.
Bryant was in, even though the Los Angeles Lakers superstar made a belated season debut after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and played just half a dozen games before a broken bone in his knee put him out of action again.
Bryant’s 16 All-Star selections trail only the 19 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar garnered in a Hall of Fame career. But the 35-year-old said younger, healthier players should get a chance to show their stuff in the All-Star extravaganza in New Orleans on February 16.
“They’ve been playing all season. They deserve to be in there,” he said.
Bryant finished second among Western Conference guards in the balloting, behind Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant topped the West in votes and is joined in the frontcourt by the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Minnesota’s Kevin Love. Love overtook Houston’s Dwight Howard in the last week of voting.
Durant fell shy of overcoming Miami Heat star LeBron James as the top overall vote-getter.
James, earning his 10th All-Star nod, will be joined in the Eastern Conference starting lineup with his Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, who is also slated to make a 10th All-Star appearance.
Indiana’s Paul George, New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, complete the Eastern Conference starting lineup.
Voting by fans around the world concluded on January 20.
NBA coaches will select the All-Star reserves. Each coach will vote for seven players from within his own conference, and a coach can’t vote for players from his own team.
After the coaches select the reserves, if a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, the NBA Commissioner will select the replacement.
The East and West All-Star coaching duties will go to the coaches whose teams own the best records in their conferences in games played through February 2.
Indiana’s Frank Vogel has already locked up the Eastern Conference head coach job.
Neither Miami coach Erik Spoelstra nor San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich are eligible because they coached in last year’s game.