5-time NBA champion, 15-time NBA all-star, and future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant has suggested that basketball fans vote for players younger than himself for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game. After fracturing his left knee against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17th, he cannot guarantee a healthy return worthy of the honor by February 16th.
“I probably won’t be able to come back soon enough to be able to make my stamp or my mark on the game. My advice would be to vote for some of the younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they’re more than deserving to be out there and play during that weekend.”
In the six games Kobe Bryant played this season, between his return from a torn Achilles and fracturing his patella, he averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 5.7 turnovers. That’s actually pretty respectable for a 35 year old playing out of position just after returning from game altering surgery, but those aren’t all-star numbers.
In the latest returns on the All-Star balloting, Bryant ranked number one in the Western conference backcourt with 723,031 votes (followed by Chris Paul with a meager 533,647 by comparison). Damian Lillard ranked eighth with 105,880 votes. Kind of makes you want to throw up, doesn’t it? Attempting to balance the discrepancy is a very classy move on Bryant’s part.
Four of the top ten vote receiving guards in the Western Conference are currently sidelined with injury: Kobe Bryant (knee), Chris Paul (shoulder), Russell Westbrook (knee), and Steve Nash (antiquity). I suspect it would me more fun to watch Lillard pair up with Curry than it would be to watch Bryant and Westbrook roshambo for who gets to use the good crutches (on second thought, I take that back).
Damian Lillard has averaged 21.3 points and 5.8 assists this season to lead the Trail Blazers to a 26-8 record. It’s no surprise that Kobe Bryant favors him to compete in the ASG. Bryant has been high on Lillard since witnessing Lillard’s 38-point career high firsthand last April. If we are lucky, and the droves of delusional Laker fans heed their fearless leader’s refreshing plea, we may get to see Damian demonstrate what Kobe deemed the “whole package” in this year’s NBA All-Star Game.