Just recently, Kobe Bryant pointed out that NBA fans should prefer voting Damian Lillard as a Western started for the All-Star game instead of him. That came out a surprise for many people around the league but in fact, it makes sense, right?
Judging from what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers and to the entire NBA but also from the name the Black Mamba has established for himself, there should be no questions if Kobe should be a starter. Despite his 35 years, when healthy, Bryant is arguably the best shooting guard in the league. The key in this statement is the “when healthy” phrase.
Up to now, Bryant has appeared in just six games this season. After more than half a year of absence, he clearly wasn’t himself. And just when he started to get his rhythm back, he went down with another injury. Kobe averages 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds this season to go along with 5.7 turnovers. Those are clearly not numbers that would place an NBA player to the All-Star team, not even at the reserve list.
As a matter of fact, hopefully Kobe Bryant will be back and healthy way sooner than the tipoff of the All-Star game, which is scheduled for February 16. Nonetheless, his statement that younger stars should be preferred and also rewarded by NBA fans is absolutely right. And of course, it’s just another example of Kobe’s greatness.
Of course Kobe will participate in the All-Star game this year. There is no way he is not there if he is healthy. Nonetheless, shouldn’t Damian Lillard be recognized and rewarded for his superstar performance up to now?
In 34 games this season, the 23-year old point guard is putting up 21.3 points per contest, 5.8 assist and also 3.8 dimes. He is also shooting 42.0 percent from the floor and 44.3 percent from three-point range.
The difference between the two players this season is obvious. And since fans are voting for the 2014 NBA All-Star game and not the best players of all-time in the NBA, the choice they should be normally taking is obvious, right? Wrong.
According to the latest results from the All-Star balloting, Kobe led the voting in the backcourt of the Western Conference. As they have done over the years, fans are voting based on the name of a player and not his performance this season. This is not the first time we’ve seen this phenomenon and apparently it won’t be the last one. A couple years ago, fans placed the done-for-the-season Yao Ming at the starting lineup of the Western All-Stars with their voting.
Maybe Kobe’s encouragement to prefer voting Damian Lillard will push Lillard’s votes slightly up. But what seems more probably is that Kobe will still lead the balloting. It doesn’t matter if Kobe doesn’t even play one game with the Los Angeles Lakers until the All-Star game. All fans will still want to see him start. After all, that’s how our star-driven society works.