MIAMI — The legions of Kobe Bryant fans may marvel at his every move, dissect his every tweet and track every second of his recovery from a fractured left knee.
But they won’t listen to Bryant’s plea that they shouldn’t vote for him in this year’s NBA All-Star game. The NBA announced that Bryant remained the leading vote getter among the Western Conference’s backcourt, penciling him to start in what would make his 16th All-Star appearance Feb. 16 in New Orleans. But after averaging only 13.8 points on 42.5 percent shooting, 6.3 assists and 5.7 turnovers through six games, Bryant insisted he will stay out of the game.
“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.”
Bryant skipped the 2010 NBA All-Star game because of a sprained left ankle. He played only two minutes and 52 seconds in the 2008 All-Star game because of a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger. But Bryant also suggested the NBA may force him to suit up anyway.
“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.”
Bryant spoke assuming he will return by then. The Lakers say they will evaluate him either next Monday or Tuesday, but Bryant insisted he won’t know whether he’s ready to play until early February. His latest work has entailed biking and spinning exercise. But Bryant hardly sounded thrilled addressing his recovery since he last talked earlier this week in Chicago.
Instead, Bryant continued addressing a wide range of topics.
He attended a business class at University of Miami on Wednesday, just a little less than a week after attending an international marketing class in Boston College. Whenever Bryant retires, would he consider obtaining a degree?
“I’m not a strong advocate of us having degrees. It’s more important to have an understanding and knowledge of things,” said Bryant, who revealed his interest in finances, psychology and marketing. “That being said, I’ll be in classes and picking up things here or there.”
Bryant addressed other topics too.
On the eighth-year anniversary of scoring a career-high 81 points, Bryant argued someone could break his record. Bryant touted Miami’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Indiana’s Paul George as MVP candidates. Bryant also clarified Phil Jackson’s long-held claim that he arranged Michael Jordan to meet with Bryant nearly a decade ago where the Lakers star immediately told Jordan he would beat him one-on-one.
“That’s a bit of a myth,” Bryant said. “I’m a big [trash] talker. But Michael is too. It’s not something I sparked up out of the conversation out of the blue and said it to Mr. Jordan. You could imagine the conversation.”
Jackson believes Jordan would win, but what does Bryant think?
“It would be a fight. It is what it is,” Bryant said. “I’d win some. He’d win some. It’d be fun.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org