Kobe Bryant played his 18th and final NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.
From the moment he appeared on court till the end, the crowd cheered him all the way.
Although it was a game between two teams, there was nothing like a competition. All people can see and feel was a moment of celebration. Even the competitors had the vibe of a celebration going on. There was no hint of a competition going on between the two teams.
— Players Only on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 15, 2016
Bryant finished with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting in just less than 26 minutes. The West beat the East 196-173 and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook took home MVP honors.
“It was fun,” Bryant said in his post-match interview, reports FOX Sports.
“I had a blast playing with those guys, laughing and joking with them on the bench. And, you know, I got a chance to stop Pau [Gasol] in a post, redeem myself from what he did to me when Chicago came to town. But all those things are just fun. I had a great time. I had a great, great time.”
Kobe indeed had a great time. There was particularly one entertaining sequence between Bryant and Cleveland’s LeBron James which resulted in Bryant double-pumping before launching a long two-pointer that missed.
Bryant however, said that things are different now from when he played his first All-Star Game against Michael Jordan.
“Michael was still Michael,” Bryant said.
“I mean it was ’98. I mean, he was that guy. I’m 20 years in and it’s different. These kids, they’re so many generations removed from that, that it’s not even about that anymore because they’ve literally grown up watching me since the age of 7. So it’s different than when I went at Michael.”
He further added: “I think it’s the stories of when they first came into the league and they were matching up against me,” Bryant said. “And just kind of the little things — an elbow here or a steal here, and then wanting to earn my respect at an early age, right? Coming into the league, playing against me, wanting to prove to me that they were as competitive.”
“When I hear those kind of stories, man, that makes me feel real good. Because over the years you’re competing against each other. Those aren’t stories you’re ever going to share with somebody that you’re competing against, right? But at this stage, it feels absolutely wonderful to hear these those things.”
Photo Courtesy: Forbes