Kobe Bryant Approached the All-Star Game Like the NBA Finals

Kobe Bryant was one of the most competitive athletes — no, humans — to ever grace this earth. It didn’t matter if it was an offseason practice or Game 7 of the NBA Finals; you knew Bryant was going to leave everything on the floor every time he laced up his kicks.

That especially carried over to the NBA All-Star Game.

Even though the All-Star Game has lost some of its luster over the past decade or so, Kobe always thought it was his duty to put on a show alongside the best players in the world. Before his tragic death in 2020, Bryant admitted the ASG needs a “little revamping” and that he wished it was as competitive as it used to be.

Kobe Bryant is one of the best All-Star Game performers in NBA history

Kobe Bryant always gave his all during the NBA All-Star Game.
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James battle it out during the 2013 NBA All-Star Game | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When you’re making a list of the best All-Star Game performers of all time, Bryant has to be near the top. Kobe scored 290 total points in 15 career All-Star appearances, which is good for the second-most all-time behind LeBron James, and his four MVPs are tied with Bob Pettit for the most in league history.

Bryant scored 27 or more points in the All-Star Game five different times, but it wasn’t just his scoring ability that shone on the biggest stage. The Los Angeles Lakers legend also averaged more than 2.5 steals per game in his ASG career, and he always wanted to guard the best player on the Eastern Conference squad every year.

Kobe might’ve left it all on the floor during All-Star Weekend, but the same can’t be said for many of the players of this era.

Kobe wanted the All-Star Game to change for the better

In 2019, a retired Bryant spoke to Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles of The Players’ Tribune’s Knuckleheads podcast and gave his honest thoughts about the state of the All-Star Game. He wasn’t too thrilled with how much it has changed over the years.

“I think the All-Star game in general needs a little revamping because it used to be competitive. Fans want to see the best pick-up game in the world. That’s what it is. They don’t want to see you running up and down doing all this crazy stuff, dunking, and all that. They want to see what happens when you put the best collection of basketball players on the planet. They play and go head up against each other. I mean, you guys play harder at a pickup game at UCLA, and it ain’t billion of people watching.” 

Kobe Bryant

Bryant clearly missed the days of going up against Michael Jordan in the All-Star Game. In the last 10-to-15 years, the game has slowly turned into a glorified three-point contest with minimal defense, which was Kobe’s nightmare.

“I always loved competing in them, I didn’t lose many of them”

In typical Kobe fashion, he always approached the All-Star Game like an NBA Finals matchup. He was going to put on the best show he could, and above all else, he wanted to win.

“I always loved competing in them, I didn’t lose in many of them,” he said. “Me and [Chris Paul] used to talk about it all the time. I don’t think that when me and CP played together in the All-Star game, I don’t think we ever lost a game. We used to look at each other, ‘OK let’s go. Yeah, fourth quarter, let’s go get them.'”

And that’s what he did his entire career. Bryant played in 15 All-Star Games for the Western Conference, and he won 10 of them.

There will never be another Kobe.

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