Before they voted, it turns out the fans did not take into account Kobe Bryant’s fight against Father Time. Nor did fans worry about the Lakers’ season-long struggles.
Bryant still led in the first returns on the 2016 NBA All-Star ballot, his 719,235 votes ahead of the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (510,202) and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (357,937).
Presuming he plays in the 2016 NBA All-Star game on Feb. 14 in Toronto, this would mark Bryant’s 18th and last All-Star appearance before he retires following the 2015-16 season. Bryant, who is playing his 20th NBA season, has the second most All-Star selections behind only former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19).
Beyond he global popularity, Bryant has also benefited from being listed as a frontcourt player for the first time of his NBA career. Bryant, who has played small forward this season, is ahead of Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant (349,473 votes).
Bryant has averaged 17.4 points on 34.4 percent shooting, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 30.7 minutes per game this season. But in the last five games, Bryant has improved his play to a 23.5 points per game average on 44.9 percent shooting and 4.3 assists in 29.8 minutes per game.