The 1998 All-Star Game was very eventful for a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant. Not only was the game built as Bryant versus Michael Jordan, but it was the LA Lakers guard’s first All-Star contest, and it just so happened to take place at Madison Square Garden.
After struggling during his rookie season in 1996-97, Bryant rebounded nicely in his second year and was named an All-Star starter. The high-flyer was being called the next Jordan and didn’t have time to relax during All-Star weekend since he was the hot ticket in town.
Michael Jordan wound up winning the All-Star Game MVP, but Kobe Bryant played very well, especially when you consider that he fell asleep in the West locker room before the game started and had to be woken up by Clyde Drexler.
Kobe Bryant scored 18 points in his first All-Star Game
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan guarded each other in the 1998 All-Star Game, and the New York crowd loved every minute of it. Bryant finished with 18 points in 22 minutes, while Jordan put up 23 points, six rebounds, and eight assists in 32 minutes of action.
Bryant showed off his athleticism on a few plays by wowing the Madison Square Garden with his dunking ability. However, in the end, Jordan stole the show with his mastery of the midrange.
During the ’98 All-Star weekend, the NBA had Kobe Bryant doing too many activities since he was the young superstar. The Black Mamba was so tired before the game started on Sunday that he fell asleep in the Western Conference locker room.
Kobe Bryant had to be woken up by Clyde Drexler
Kobe Bryant fell asleep on the middle of the floor in the West locker room before the ’98 All-Star Game. If it wasn’t for Clyde Drexler, the Lakers legend might have missed tipoff.
“I remember being so tired before the game because, during that All-Star weekend, they had me doing so much,” Bryant told Graham Bensinger in 2012. “This event, that event, this interview, that interview, this party, that party. There’s so much going on. I was 19. I literally went to sleep in the middle of the locker room on the floor before the game. I just crashed out, probably snoring. I remember Clyde Drexler comes to me, taps me on my shoulder, ‘Hey, we’re about to go out there in like five minutes. Wake up young fella.’ “
Bryant may have been tired before the game, but he had a lot of energy once the festivities started. He led the West All-Stars in scoring, and only Michael Jordan scored more points than him in the game.
Kudos to Clyde Drexler for being a good veteran and waking Kobe Bryant up.
Five-time champion was an 18-time All-Star
Kobe Bryant was an 18-time All-Star and four-time All-Star Game MVP. The only other player to win four All-Star Game MVPs is Bob Pettit. Bryant scored 290 points in the 15 All-Star games he appeared in and shot 50% from the field.
In February of 2020, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the Kia NBA All-Star Game MVP Award would permanently be named after Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in January. The Lakers icon is still the youngest player to ever play in an All-Star Game.