Kobe Bryant’s All-Star Going-Away Party Comes at Fitting Time in NBA’s Evolution

February 14th, 2016 by Grant Hughes Leave a reply »

The 2016 NBA All-Star Game capped a weekend devoted to celebrating Kobe Bryant, just as it signaled that the league he iconically defined for two decades no longer needs him.

That's different than saying it doesn't want him anymore.

During the West's 196-173 win, Bryant was mostly an afterthought—given a handful of early chances to score before ceding the spotlight to the assembled present-day superstars. And that felt appropriate. As much as the lead-up festivities in Toronto focused on Bryant's career impact, the actual game was all about the generation of stars he influenced.

(And not playing defense. It was also about not playing defense.)

That group of players, the ones Bryant helped create, showed appreciation for the 18-time All-Star in one of two (yes, two) pregame tribute videos:

All the deference (both before and during the game) was ironic when you consider the uncompromising, decidedly non-deferential spirit that defined Bryant's career, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:

Russell Westbrook's competitive wiring is similar to Bryant's, and he ...

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