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Kobe Bryant's All-Star Legacy
Throughout his career, Kobe Bryant always had a showman's flair when he'd match up against the league's best in the NBA All-Star Game.
By the time he checked out of his final one in 2016, Bryant already set All-Star career records for starts (15), steals (38) and shots made (119). Furthermore, he placed second in scoring (280), games (15), 3-pointers (22) and minutes (414).
From the teenager who rocketed through the Slam Dunk Contest to the veteran winning his record-tying fourth MVP and more, we take a game-by-game look back at Bryant’s All-Star legacy.
The Teenager Flies (1997)
The first iconic moment of Bryant’s career came when he was just 18 years old. A rookie playing small minutes at the team, the teenager wowed the Cleveland crowd by jamming his way to the Slam Dunk Contest crown. Bryant — who had scored a then-record 31 points in the Rookie Challenge hours before — capped off his night with a powerful between-the-legs hammer that earned a score of 49 out of 50.
Debuting at the Garden (1998)
When Bryant took the floor at Madison Square Garden, he became the youngest All-Star in league history at 19 years old. Bryant was still coming off the bench for the Lakers at the time, but voted in as a starter by fans. He provided the Western Conference 18 points and six rebounds, while picking the brain of his boyhood idol, Michael Jordan, who was named MVP.
Back Among the Stars (2000)
There was no All-Star Game during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, so Bryant had to wait a year to return to the midseason exhibition. He again held his own with 16 points in Oakland, while watching two key figures of his career share MVP honors: Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan.
Passing Through the Capital (2001)
Bryant was in a passing mood for the Washington, D.C. edition of the game. He handed out seven assists, while also making sure he got his own with 19 points. Still, the East edged out a 111-110 victory.
The Hometown MVP (2002)
A year after defeating the 76ers in the NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant was booed with gusto in his hometown of Philadelphia for the 2002 All-Star Game. However, as was a constant theme in his career, the negative reaction fueled him. He exploded for 31 points — the most by anyone in 14 years — on 12-of-25 shooting with five rebounds and four assists to receive MVP honors for the very first time.
Most Popular (2003)
Having won All-Star Game MVP and his third championship the previous year, fans clamored to see more of Bryant, who received the league’s most votes — 1.5 million — for the first time in his career. He thanked the Atlanta crowd by putting on a show, finishing with 22 points, six assists and trios of steals and 3-pointers, while the West outlasted the East in double overtime, 155-145.
L.A. Owns the Night (2004)
Playing in front of their home crowd, Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal made sure that nobody from a different team was going to be the center of attention at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. While Bryant provided 20 points on a blazing 9-of-12 clip, plus five steals, O’Neal took home the MVP trophy by leading the West to its third straight win.
Going West (2005)
After racking up buckets in back-to-back All-Star Games, Bryant leaned more on his all-around game in Denver. He scored 16 points, while also picking up six rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
No Problem, Houston (2006)
For the only time in his All-Star tenure, Bryant’s shot was just not working. He went just 4-of-11 and missed all five attempts from 3-point range. However, he was still able to give a positive impact by tallying seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. He even hit a clutch basket to tie at 120 with 31 seconds left before Dwyane Wade’s put-back handed the East the win.
Vegas Jackpot (2007)
Bryant was a real high roller when the All-Star Game took place in Las Vegas, as he dropped 31 points, five rebounds and six assists. For as steaming as his 13-of-24 clip may have been, Bryant — who competed in the Skills Challenge the night before — may have been even better defensively. He and Wade both swiped six steals, which were the most in the game’s last 21 years.
In and Out (2008)
Bryant’s participation in New Orleans was limited to just three minutes due to a torn ligament in his right pinky. Shortly after tip-off, he left the game with zero shots taken and only a single rebound.
Reunited With the Big Fella (2009)
Teammates again for the first time in five years, Bryant and O’Neal ended up lifting the MVP hardware together after the West’s 146-119 win in Phoenix. Bryant poured in 27 points, four assists and four steals, while shooting 12-of-23. Meanwhile, the other half of the dominant 2000s duo played only 11 minutes, but racked up 17 points by missing only one of his nine shots.
King of L.A. (2011)
In front of his home crowd at Staples Center, Bryant gave the fans exactly what they wanted after showering him with a league-high 2.4 million votes. He put on a show that no All-Star Game had seen before, finishing with 37 points, 14 rebounds and three assists. The clear choice for his record-tying fourth MVP, Bryant’s scoring total was the highest since Michael Jordan dropped 40 in 1988, and his 10 offensive boards remain the All-Star record.
Passing MJ (2012)
Nothing was going to stop Bryant from filing up the scoreboard in Orlando — not even a broken nose. After taking a hard foul from Wade in the third quarter, he returned to finish with 27 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He also went 7-of-8 at the foul line despite having to clean up his bleeding nostrils between shots. His offensive outburst also brought him to a career checkpoint, as he passed Jordan (262) for the most points in All-Star history.
Getting Defensive (2013)
Bryant left Houston with only nine points but nonetheless provided a couple of his most memorable All-Star moments. With the East trying to rally late in the game, Bryant — who also had eight assists — came from behind to swat LeBron James, leading to a Kevin Durant dunk on the other end. James, the reigning NBA MVP, attempted to drive on Bryant shortly after and again had his shot sent back by the Laker.
Finale Amongst the Stars (2016)
In the week leading up to Bryant's final All-Star Game, all eyes — and cameras — were on him. From receiving an introduction by Magic Johnson to participating in the opening tip-off with LeBron James, the game itself was Kobe-centric as well. The 37-year-old stitched together 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists in Toronto after receiving a league-high 1.9 million votes from the fans. Bryant also passed Jordan for the most steals in All-Star history during a performance that finished with a standing ovation from Air Canada Centre.
Highlights Through the Years
Worth Mentioning: Bryant was selected to play in the All-Star Game every season since 1998. However, there was no game in 1999 due to a lockout, and he did not participate in 2010, 2014 or 2015 due to injuries.
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