Kobe Bryant seemed genuinely touched to be embraced so warmly by the Las Vegas crowd on Sunday night, probably because the last time he was named the MVP of an All Star game, he was roundly jeered by his hometown fans in Philadelphia.
“I was pretty upset. Pretty hurt,” Bryant said in 2002. “I just wanted to go out there and just play. Just play hard.I can just look at them being just diehard Sixers fans, I guess, being loyal to their team.”
But this year, with his stellar play and the Lakers’ early season success, Bryant’s been hearing MVP chants in the most unlikely places. Even Boston.
Vegas seemed enamored with him all weekend. He received the loudest cheers of any player at the West’ practice on Saturday and was second only to Michael Jordan when they were announced as judges for the Slam Dunk contest Saturday night.
Sunday, he was clearly the crowd favorite.
“It’s humbling,” he said. “As player we always want to feel appreciated for what we do. To have this type of reaction here is very humbling.”