Not that it’s a surprise, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Friday that he’ll have no influence on whether Kobe Bryant will suit up in what would be his 16th All-Star appearance Feb. 16 in New Orleans.
“That’s up to Kobe, the trainer and doctors,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t have anything against anything. That’s up to them.”
Bryant has missed the past three weeks because of a fractured left knee. But D’Antoni expressed hope that Bryant could return when the Lakers play Jan. 28 against the Indiana Pacers following the team’s seven-game, 12-day trip.
Bryant has encouraged fans, however, not to vote for him in this year for several reasons. After missing the first 19 games while healing his left Achilles tendon, Bryant averaged a modest 13.8 points and 6.3 assists in six contests before injuring his knee. D’Antoni appeared to smiled out of disbelief that Bryant would make such a suggestion.
“Okay,” D’Antoni said, rolling his eyes.
But Bryant has.
“Even though there is so much respect for me to play for the fans, I’d much rather see the young guys go out there and play the game,” Bryant said last week. “They’ve obviously put the work to be there.”
Bryant’s plea for fans not to vote for him while healing his fractured left knee hasn’t worked.
The third return of the NBA All-Star ballot shows Bryant leading the Western Conference backcourt with 844,538 votes. Bryant could return in time for what would make his 16th All-Star appearance on Feb. 16 in New Orleans. If he can’t play, NBA Commissioner David Stern would select a replacement.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry (677,372) and the Clippers’ Chris Paul (651,073) trail closely behind. Interestingly, Houston guard Jeremy Lin (471,980) has surpassed his teammate James Harden (338,788) despite being the Rockets’ leading scorer.
D’Antoni has great affection for Lin after his surprise run with the New York Knicks. Has D’Antoni voted for Lin?
“I don’t really vote. I think Harvard is big on the voting process,” D’Antoni joked, an obvious reference to the large Asian fanbase the Tawainese native that Lin has attracted.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org