The NBA released the starters for the All-Star Game, and there were a few surprises on the Western Conference side of things. There were no official centers in the lineup, and Kobe Bryant was voted in despite missing most of the season.
Bryant spoke with the media before the Lakers faced off against the Heat on Thursday night, and he says he doesn’t want to play, via the LA Daily News:
“With all due respect to the fans that voted me in, I appreciate that and they know how much I appreciate that, but you have to do the right thing,” Bryant said. “My fans know you have to reward these young guys for the work they’ve been doing.”
There’s just one problem. Kobe Bryant will be back before the All-Star Game on February 16th, and if he is healthy, then the NBA will have something to say about him missing the event. The NBA will force the player that is voted in (this only applies to starters) to miss his next two games because that’s the way they do things. Basically, they are telling the player, “Fine, if you aren’t healthy then you’ll miss two games to make sure you get better.”
This rule is to prevent players from doing what Kobe is doing, and since the fans want to see him, the NBA will want him to do so. He spoke to that as well:
“The rule is you have to go in there and play or you miss the next two games,” Bryant said. “It means somebody will have to lose a spot unfortunately. The backups will be playing a lot. I’ll do my two minutes and sit down.”
In 2008, Kobe had a torn ligament in his pinkie, so he came in and played 2:52 and then checked out. You can expect that here, too. Frankly it’s a travesty that Dwight Howard isn’t starting, as that would give us Kobe and Dwight in the same starting lineup one more time.