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Coronation for Kobe?

WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE: Zach LaVine of the Timberwolves soars during  the All-Star dunk contest. The defending champ beats the Magic’s Aaron Gordon in a final that was being debated as the best ever, requiring two tiebreakers to decide a winner, with LaVine eventually scoring his fourth straight perfect 50. “That was some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen,” he said of Gordon’s dunks, which included one where he jumped over Orlando’s mascot Stuff, who was standing on a hoverboard, grabbed the ball and put it through his legs before dunking it.

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WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE: Zach LaVine of the Timberwolves soars during the All-Star dunk contest. The defending champ beats the Magic’s Aaron Gordon in a final that was being debated as the best ever, requiring two tiebreakers to decide a winner, with LaVine eventually scoring his fourth straight perfect 50. “That was some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen,” he said of Gordon’s dunks, which included one where he jumped over Orlando’s mascot Stuff, who was standing on a hoverboard, grabbed the ball and put it through his legs before dunking it.

TORONTO — The dominant story line in tonight's All-Star Game will be Kobe Bryant's final appearance in the midseason event.

He has been given a hero's welcome at visiting arenas ever since he announced he will retire after this season.

So it won't surprise anyone if the Western Conference All-Stars attempt to feed him the ball in an attempt to make him the game's MVP.

"We joked and kind of talked about it," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said Saturday.

"Obviously, that would be a cool story for him to go out like that, but you never know how the game's going to unfold. Every All-Star Game is different, and I think the NBA and us players try to do the best job we can of honoring his career and his last stop for All-Star Weekend."

Bryant has been named the game's MVP four times, most recently in 2011 in Los Angeles.

He insisted he has no desire to seek a fifth MVP trophy.

"Zero," Bryant said. "I've never been one to really pull any punches. But, no, I'm really just enjoying this whole thing."

On Friday during his media session, some reporters applauded as took his seat in a hotel ballroom. Journalists from 40 countries in town turned Bryant's first news conference of his 18th All-Star Game into the latest stop of a farewell tour.

A reporter from a local radio station pushed a tiny red bag with a white bow and a cream-colored enveloped addressed, "Dear Kobe," toward Bryant. Inside was a bottle of Brio, an Italian soda made in Canada.

"Ah, thanks, man," Bryant said.

That wasn't the only gift. A reporter, donning a Bryant jersey, presented him a picture of the different Nikes he wore during his career. A reporter from Japan gave him a portrait of a samurai sword-wielding Bryant dressed in a purple kimono standing on the Lakers' half-court logo.

The global icon answered questions in English, Spanish and Italian. He even learned from a reporter how to say "thank you" in Arabic.

"This is pretty cool," he said. "I'm looking around the room and seeing guys that I played with that are tearing up the league that were like 4 during my first All-Star Game. It's true, I mean, how many players can say they've played 20 years and actually have seen the game go through three, four generations?"

All-Star Game rosters

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Starters

Dwyane Wade, Heat, G

Carmelo Anthony, Knicks, F

Kyle Lowry, Raptors, G

Paul George, Pacers, F

LeBron James, Cavaliers, F

Reserves

Andre Drummond, Pistons, C

i-Chris Bosh, Heat, F

John Wall, Wizards, G

Paul Millsap, Hawks, F

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics, G

DeMar DeRozan, Raptors, G

r-Pau Gasol, Bulls, C-F

i-Jimmy Butler, Bulls, G-F

r-Al Horford, Atlanta, C-F

Coach: Tyronn Lue, Cavaliers

Assistants: Jim Boylan; Bret Brielmaier; Larry Drew; James Posey; Phil Handy; Mike Longabardi

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Starters

Russell Westbrook, Thunder, G

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs, F

Kobe Bryant, Lakers, F-G

Stephen Curry, Warriors, G

Kevin Durant, Thunder, F

Reserves

Chris Paul, Clippers, G

Klay Thompson, Warriors, G

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs, F

James Harden, Rockets, G

DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, C-F

Draymond Green, Warriors, F

Anthony Davis, Pelicans, F-C

Coach: Gregg Popovich, Spurs

Assistants: Ime Udoka; Chip Engelland; Chad Forcier; Ettore Messina; James Borrego; Becky Hammon

i-injured, will not play; r-replacement

Coronation for Kobe? 02/13/16 [Last modified: Saturday, February 13, 2016 11:49pm]
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