TORONTO, CANADA—It was a star-studded night in balmy Toronto, Canada, but the star that shined the brightest had to be Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant.
This was the 65th installment of the NBA All-Star Game and the 18th game that featured Kobe. He was voted in and voted to start by fans from across the globe, in what would be his final All-Star Game as a player.
The game saw the West beat the East with a record setting score of 196 – 173. The 321 combined points walloped last years total, record setting at the time, of 321 total points. The previous record for most points scored by one team was 163, which was broken by even the losing team this year.
Russell Westbrook won his second All-Star MVP in back to back years, and Paul George outscored all players with 41 points.
But all of this seemed mere formality in comparison to Kobe Bryant. Like many games on the Kobe Farewell Tour this year, an inspiring and chilling video tribute was played prior to the game start. As the video concluded, Magic Johnson took center court to announce Kobe’s All-Star records and give some sentiment of his own.
Bryant finished the tribute by saying a few words of his own. Speaking about the new young stars in the game he stated, “It feels so good to be able to speak to them about the game, to be able to share some of the knowledge that I’ve learned about my career to them so they can carry on the tradition of the NBA.”
Kobe has always been a pupil of the game, and has studied meticulously to make his game the best that it could be. Now he is able to look back at his career and groom the young rising stars based on his experiences and accomplishments.
Bryant had a “less-than” All-Star performance based on his standards but was still able to produce a solid 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
A final curtain call was given when Bryant was taken off the floor with 1:06 remaining in the game. Not a seat remained filled as every fan was standing and applauding loudly for the “Michael Jordan” of this generation.
As reported by USA Today, reigning MVP Stephen Curry said, “Then obviously the curtain call at the end that you knew it was coming, but you didn’t know what part of the game and the feel that the crowd was going to give, and it was amazing. Kind of got goose bumps out there.”