Everybody remembers Michael Jordan’s last All-Star Game in 2003, Shaq’s in 2009 (in which he and Kobe were named co-MVPs), and now, everyone will celebrate Kobe’s this Sunday. Because of his age and multiple significant injuries, Kobe is no longer in his prime. But he’s deserving of his record 18th straight All-Star bid, and will forever be in the discussion of the greatest of all-time.
Kobe’s lengthy and storied All-Star Game legacy began in 1998, vs. none other than Michael Jordan. A humble yet confident Mamba took the stage with one thing on his mind: MVP. Shot after shot, dunk after dunk, he showed up to show out. By game’s end, the savvy Jordan won the matchup and took home the MVP, but Kobe wowed viewers and showed fans he was the real deal. Kobe went on to win his first All-Star MVP over Jordan in 2002 by scoring 31 points. The saga would continue into 2003 – the duo’s final All-Star Game matchup. When it was all said and done, Kobe (22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) would outplay Jordan (20 points, 5 boards, and 2 assists) and get this famous block to top it off.
Kobe would continue to dominate All-Star Games, matching his 2002 performance with 31 points in ’07. But perhaps his most memorable All-Star Game was in 2011, in front of his own fans at the Staples Center. He started with his trademark turnaround. Fading away. Over a defender. From a terrible angle. And he made it. Most guys simply don’t have the athleticism, skill, or confidence to take that shot, and anyone who does usually needs to catch fire first. Not only did Kobe start the game ice cold with such a ridiculous shot, he somehow banked it in. In typical Kobe fashion, he finished with a double-double (37 points, 14 boards), and was deservedly named the MVP.
This Sunday, all eyes will be on Kobe, the all-time leader in All-Star Game points, field goals, and games started. In what will definitely be a memorable game, how do you think the NBA and fellow players will honor him? What will his stat line be? Will he win MVP? Tune in Sunday at 8:30 pm ET to find out, and drop your predictions in the comments below.