Sidelined since mid-December due to a knee injury and with no return date in sight, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant still was selected a starter for the NBA’s All-Star Game.
The results of fan balloting for the starting spots were announced Thursday, and Bryant received the second-highest vote totals among Western Conference guards. The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry earned his first All-Star appearance, while Bryant was selected an All-Star for the 16th time. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with 19 appearances, was a more frequent All-Star.
The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, Miami Heat forward LeBron James, earned the most votes, 1,416,419. The early favorite for this season’s MVP, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, was second with 1,396,294.
Joining Durant in the Western Conference frontcourt are the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin (688,466 votes) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love (661,246). Curry received 1,047,281 votes, and Bryant got 988,884.
The Eastern Conference backcourt consists of the Heat’s Dwyane Wade (929,542) and Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (860,221).
In addition to James, the East’s frontcourt includes the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George (1,211,318) and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (935,702).
Love passed Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard in the final voting tally.
James and Wade are both 10-time All-Stars. Anthony is a seven-time All-Star, and Durant is a five-time All-Star. Griffin is heading to his fourth All-Star game, and Love is making his third appearance.
George is a two-time All-Star.
Irving will appear in his second All-Star Game, and he will make his first start. Just short of his 22nd birthday, he will be the fifth-youngest All-Star starter, trailing only James, Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Isiah Thomas.
Irving will be the third Cavalier to start an All-Star Game, joining Shawn Kemp (1998) and James (2005-10).
Prior to Curry, the last Warrior selected an All-Star starter was Latrell Sprewell in 1995.
The All-Star Game will be played Feb. 16 in New Orleans.