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This year’s NBA All-Star Game was full of its normal slam dunks, alley oops, and ridiculously long three-pointer because of the loose defense being played in Toronto. The starters for the East was consisted of LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Kyle Lowry, while the West’s starters were Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, and Russell Westtbrook. First year All-Stars this year included Draymond Green, Andre Drummond, and Boston’s own Isaiah Thomas. With all of these new All-Stars arriving to the scene, one was making his last hoorah.
In November, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant announced that this season would be his last. He has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, which includes five NBA titles, one Most Valuable Player award, and eighteen All-Star selections. A truly momentous career. The All-Star Game was a way Kobe could play a fun game with all of his friends and peers that would live in his memories forever. The game started like nothing I’ve seen, Kobe and Lebron doing the tip-off. Kobe won the tip-off and the fun started!
The game started off with several long three-pointers and alley oops. As the game went on, everyone tried to get a chance to guard Kobe. In return he did the same, making sure no one could say, “Hey remember when I nailed that shot on you in your last All-Star Game?” The score at the end of the first half was 92-90 in favor of the West, a score that could have been the final score of a regular season game.
“It was fun. I had a blast playing with those guys, laughing and joking with them on the bench,” said Bryant in a television interview. “And, you know, I got a chance to stop [former teammate] 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.”
The second half started off with Stephen Curry sinking a 25-foot three-point shot, leading the West to go onto a 35-12 run and take a 118-102 lead. Flying under the radar was returning All-Star Paul George, who was racking up the points, with 20 by the middle of the third quarter.
The clock struck midnight on Kobe’s night as he was subbed out with his team up 20 points in the fourth quarter. Every player, fan, coach, and commentator stood and saluted Kobe as he hugged his life-long brothers and took his seat on the bench, only to watch George come one point shy of breaking the most points in an All-Star game, Curry to make a half court shot jumper with the two seconds on the clock, and Russell Westbrook winning the game’s MVP. Kobe knew he had a paved a path for the NBA and many players have followed him. The West smothered the East 196-173 to conclude the game.
Trevor Nataupsky ’19 is a sports writer for The Hub. He can be followed on Twitter at @TheBigTuna511.