Kobe Bryant has announced that this will be his final NBA season, and the fans have responded by voting him into the starting lineup of this year's All-Star game.
There are others more deserving, of course, but Bryant is the leading vote-getter because the fans want to see him play in the mid-season exhibition one last time. That bit of charity, however, is the last Bryant hopes to receive.
In an interview with Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, Bryant said he hopes his final All-Star game will be similar to Michael Jordan's back in 2003, when guys competed against him instead of deferring to him as a way of saying thanks for a career full of greatness.
"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 told Yahoo Sports. " '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.”
The 2003 All-Star game was more competitive than most, as the West needed overtime to come away with a 10-point victory over the East. Jordan finished with 20 points on a game-high 27 shots, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Bryant go out in much the same way.
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