In 2002 Kobe Bryant won the MVP of the NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia, his real hometown, and was booed lustily for his trouble. Sure he played for the Lakers who had beaten the hometown 76ers in the previous year’s NBA Finals. However, Kobe got a little more love on Sunday night (Feb 20) in Los Angeles.
Kobe dropped 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as he led the West All-Stars to a 148-143 victory over the East at Staples Center.
One of the elder statesmen in this game (only the Big 3 of Boston and Tim Duncan are older) it was said Bryant would step aside and let the young guns shine. Kobe jacked up 26 shots (almost an All-Star Game record for attempts) making 14 of them, including two sick reverse dunks to show he still has hops. It felt like a Lakers game on the court as the Black Mamba had his sights set on the all-time All-Star game scoring record of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain. Kobe did tie a record with his 4th All Star MVP trophy, an honor he shares with St. Louis Hawks legend Bob Petit (one more than Shaq, by the way, ‘cuz Kobe’s keeping track).
The Eastern squad threatened to rain on Kobe’s parade putting together a furious fourth quarter rally led by LeBron James to bring the score to within two late in fourth quarter after being down by 17 at the end of the third.
James finished with only the second triple-double (29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) in All-Star history joining Michael Jordan’s 1997 output (14-11-11).
Kevin Durant quietly poured in 32 points including the game sealing jumpers as the West avenged the loss to the East last year in Dallas.