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Lakers History: Kobe's High-Flying All-Star Debut
The 1998 All-Star Game may have been held in New York, but Los Angeles took it over.
From a quartet of Lakers — including Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones — to Magic Johnson and Jack Nicholson on the sidelines, there was plenty of purple and gold on hand.
But no Laker garnered more attention than Kobe Bryant, who surpassed Magic as the youngest starter in All-Star history.
Not content with simply being present, Bryant — who was exactly one year away from winning the Slam Dunk Contest — immediately put his athleticism on display with a soaring give-and-go alley-oop.
Kobe only played 22 minutes, sitting the entirety of the fourth quarter. But he made his time count by packing it with 18 points.
The 19-year-old essentially put on a one-man dunk contest, including throwing down a 360 off the outlet pass from Shaq.
While Bryant and the Western Conference couldn’t get the W, the teenager did manage to push the world’s greatest player to another level.
Michael Jordan had spent the previous two days bedridden with the flu, but scored 23 points and was named MVP, saying that his performance stemmed from competition with Bryant.
“I didn’t expect myself to come out here and win the MVP,” Jordan told reporters. “… I just wanted to make sure Kobe didn’t dominate me.”
It was easy to see why Jordan would be wary of getting shown up. Whether it was his high-flying slams or a couple around-the-back handles, Bryant certainly made his case as Broadway’s best show for one night.
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