Play It Forward Feb. 8-14: Kobe Bryant and the NBA All-Star. For Kobe Bryant’s 18th and final All-Star appearance, we envision a best-case scenario: The other players rig it so that he can go off for 20-plus points and take home the game MVP, which would be his fifth.
What about a not-so-best scenario: A couple of air balls at the start, the 37-year-old starts pressing, commits some turnovers, and he gets jeered in English and French.
We asked the TNT studio analysts which one they anticipated.
“There’s no best-case, worst-case, we’re just going to celebrate him and just have some fun,” said Charles Barkley, who retired in 1997, the year before Bryant played in his first All-Star game at Madison Square Garden.
“I would just like to see him big in a big moment,” added Kenny Smith. “If the game is close, I think he can get the basketball and create an opportunity for himself. He doesn’t have to have a big game, just make some big shots.”Play It Forward Feb. 8-14: Kobe Bryant and the NBA All-Star.
Former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who played with Bryant on the West All-Star team five times and against him three other times with the East, had this vision: “When it comes to All-Star games, you don’t have to play all 48 minutes. Remember when Magic (Johnson) came back (in 1992) and he called out Mike (Jordan) to play (one-on-one) and the crowd went crazy, he called out Isiah (Thomas) … It would be exciting if (Bryant) called out LeBron (James) or D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) … If you get a couple of instances where you hit a couple big shots, the crowd goes crazy ….”
Don’t think that Bryant won’t have the trophy in mind the second he steps on the court, added O’Neal, who shared the 2009 MVP with him when the game was at Phoenix.