NBA Stars, Teammates Agree: Kobe Bryant Deserves All-Star Bid in Farewell Season

LOS ANGELES — Strike up a conversation about Kobe Bryant's obscene number of All-Star fan votes with just about any player or coach around the NBA, and you’ll inevitably hear the same thing over and over again.

Despite playing for the worst team in the Western Conference, shooting a ghastly 35 percent from the floor and 26 percent from behind the three-point line, and having one of the least efficient—if not the least efficient—single-season campaigns in NBA history, the consensus is clear: Bryant belongs in Toronto on Valentine’s Day.

Now 37 years old and coming off two straight seasons that were cut short by major surgery, Bryant is laboring through a farewell tour that prioritizes his availability over anything else. Since announcing his retirement on Nov. 29, he’s yet to miss a road game, but various ailments—ranging from a sore shoulder to a sore Achilles—have kept him out of five contests at Staples Center.

None of this matters in the eyes of colleagues who’ve played by his side or competed against him over the years. To them, it’s a no-brainer to commemorate his Hall of Fame career during a weekend that’s designed to celebrate the NBA’s best.

“He’s the GOAT,” Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert told Bleacher Report. “He deserves to be in the All-Star Game. He’s been a great champion and an ambassador to this game, so it’s not out of the realm that he would be leading in the All-Star votes.” 

After beating Los Angeles on Friday night, Oklahoma City Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook echoed Hibbert’s sentiment, showering the polarizing icon with praise while ignoring his substandard present-day production. 

“He deserves it,” Durant said. “He’s done so much for the game, and the fans love him. ...

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