Brightest All-Star: Kobe

first_imgIn 2002, Bryant was mercilessly booed by fans in his hometown of Philadelphia. They jeered him every time he touched the ball, then hissed when he was announced as the game’s MVP. But on this night, the city that loves its showmen almost more than it loves neon lights or $3.99 buffets embraced Bryant as its favorite son. “It’s humbling. As a player you want to feel appreciated for what we do and to hear the chants, it makes you feel good,” Bryant said. “It’s very, very humbling. And it makes you feel very good.” Generally, the hometown All-Star has a head start on winning the game’s MVP award. Las Vegas is the only non-NBA city ever to host an All-Star game. That left Phoenix’s Shawn Marion, a UNLV product, and Bryant, because Southern Nevada is Lakers country, as the two front-runners for the MVP award. Marion finished with 18points, and teammate Amare Stoudemire had 29, but Bryant was a clear-cut winner because of his playmaking (six assists) and aggressiveness in attacking the rim. Sunday evening, Kobe Bryant won over the glitziest – and definitely the strangest – crowd ever to watch an NBA All-Star Game, as he had 31points, six assists and sixsteals to earn MVP honors in the West’s 153-132 victory over the East at the Thomas & Mack Center. By the end of the game, a West runaway from start to finish, the crowd began chanting Bryant’s name and calling for him to be named MVP. It was a far different scene than the last time Bryant took home the MVP trophy from an All-Star game. LAS VEGAS – At home, with the adoring Staples Center crowd, the “MVP” chants have pretty much become a nightly ritual for Kobe Bryant. Then he heard the same cheers in Boston, a place that has always saved a special sort of venom for the Lakers. center_img At times, he seemed to be oneof the few players who really cared about winning. “You could tell early on that he was being aggressive,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “You can always tell what guys have that mentality that night to go for the MVP by how aggressive they are with shooting the ball.” Bryant took 24 shots, the most of any player. Stoudemire (22) and LeBron James (20) were the only players to take nearly as many. With the exception of James (28 points) and Orlando’s Dwight Howard (20 points, 12rebounds), most of the East seemed lethargic after a weekend in Vegas. Even Bryant acknowledged being a bit tired from all the excitement this weekend. “Before tonight’s game I was as tired as they were,” Bryant said. “But we had lost two times in a row to the East, so we wanted to come out and win this game.” For his part, Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal did most of his entertaining in the in-game video presentations, singing a not-too-bad “Viva Las Vegas” and passionately shouting a line from “Braveheart” as part of a trivia contest. O’Neal played just 17 minutes, even volunteering some of his playing time to Dwight Howard, but still had 10 points and six rebounds. But the star of this evening was his former running mate in Los Angeles. “I just feel blessed and fortunate to be able to come out tonight and put on a really good show,” Bryant said. No place appreciates that more than Vegas. [email protected] (818) 713-3617 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more