Skip to content

Kobe does not want to play in All-Star Game, may not have choice

Jan 24, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT


Kobe Bryant asked you to vote for Damian Lillard or other young, rising stars of the NBA. You — and by you I mean NBA fans around the globe — voted Kobe in as an All-Star Game starter anyway. For Kobe it would be All-Star Game No. 16.

His reaction? He doesn’t want to play.

Here is his quote, via’s Dave McMenamin.

“With all due respect to the fans that voted me in, I certainly appreciate that, they know how much I appreciate that, but you got to do the right thing as well,” Bryant said before the Lakers’ 109-102 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday night. “My fans know you got to reward these young guys for the work that they’ve been putting in….

“I think it’s important for them to go in and perform,” Bryant said. “They’ve been playing all season. They deserve to be in there. They deserve to play. So, I see no reason why they shouldn’t be out there doing their thing.”

Sorry Kobe, it doesn’t work that way. Nice try though, spinning it to be about the young players getting their chance.

The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement says that if a player is voted in by the fans or is selected by the coaches as a reserve, he has to play. If said player is injured the Commissioner can excuse him from the game, but if guys have played for their teams before or after the All-Star Game that permission has not been granted.

Kobe is expected to return from his knee injury prior to the All-Star Game (between that and his Achilles he has played just six games this season so far). There doesn’t seem to be a set rule about repercussions if the All-Star Game is skipped, but the conventional wisdom is he would have to sit out the Lakers’ first two games after the All-Star Game, too.

For Kobe to skip the game in New Orleans, he would need to get special permission from the commissioner. It doesn’t have to be for medical reasons, the commissioner (David Stern now, Adam Silver as of Feb. 2) can excuse a player at his discretion.

Kobe can ask out, but he’s not likely to get permission. This would be a slippery slope for the league — Dwyane Wade has missed more than a quarter of the Heat’s games this season to rest his knees, you know he would love the time off. If the league lets Kobe sit, Wade will want to sit, other veterans such as Carmelo Anthony may want to sit, and every year from now until they finally host the All-Star Game in London (which is a long, long, long way off, if it ever happens) veteran players will beg out of the game for one reason or another.

The league most likely isn’t going to go down that road — this is a huge marketing event for the NBA worldwide, and they are going to give the people what they want. And they want Kobe.

Which brings us to 2008, when Kobe was playing through his broken fingers, was voted an All-Star starter. He played the first 2:52 of that game then sat the rest of the way. We could see something similar in New Orleans. Kobe admitted as much.

“If I played [for the Lakers] before [the All-Star Game], the rule is you got to go in there and play or miss the next two games,” said Bryant. “So, that just means somebody would have to lose a spot, unfortunately and the back-ups would be playing a lot, because I’d go in there and do my two minutes and sit out.”

Those backups are likely going to include younger guards like Lillard and James Harden, plus maybe deserving guys like Goran Dragic and Mike Conley (depending on who the coaches select as reserves, if Chris Paul is healthy and other factors). Which is what Kobe wants anyway.

  1. asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    The league should let Wade sit the ASG. There have been enough injuries to stars this year, no need to put them all in one place for Wade to easily break all their faces.

    • spthegr8 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Kobe is right. The guys that have played well deserve to play. To keep it 100, Kobe shouldn’t have even been on the list. The All-Star voting is JOKE!!! Forget the most popular, I want to see the best players!!

      • omahakidw - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        Not a Kobe fan, but the dude makes perfect sense here. The league needs to re-think this agreement they struck with the players its stupid. Kobe is smart, and if like he says “is forced to play” it will be his “two minute thing” he league response would be ………..what? The man is trying to recover from and injury, and their are allot of young guy`s who allot of people would love to see show-case their talent so I say allow them to do so. Kobe recognize this, the NBA is slow when it comes to “common sense”.

      • ranfan12 - Jan 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        Seems like common sense is rare for sports franchises for the most part lol. NCAA doesn’t seem to have much either, especially with the kind of rules they have

  2. jcmeyer10 - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    I think this is as much about not qualifying if that makes sense. Has he played enough to be an All-Star on this particular year?

    I think the league could instate a rule where a player has to play 50%+ of their teams games to qualify for the All-Star game.

    • raidmagic - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      They need to do something this is just stupid. That’s voting a guy in on past accolades. He has done nothing to merit and all star vote this year.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:02 PM

        His fashion is certainly not All-Star worthy. Buttoning the top button without a tie? What is this, 1992?

      • skids003 - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        And don’t think for a minute he would raise hell if there wasn’t enough “voters” out there to vote him in. It’s all about Kobe with Kobe, don’t think for a minute he cares about the “younger” players.

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 24, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        I don’t think Kobe cares what skids003 thinks about him on the internet

      • skids003 - Jan 24, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        I’m sure he doesn’t. Nor do I care what you think.

    • omahakidw - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      That’s a great thought, then players wouldn`t be forced into playing, and guys who`ve played would have to be considered for starter status and we wouldn’t be seeing the same guys year after year whether they have played or not but have “name recognition” ad they are voted to start because of that fact……..popularity would be a thing of the past !

  3. fanofevilempire - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I think Kobe is right, he actually is bowing out to someone who has actually played.

    • omahakidw - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      He`s absolutely correct !

  4. thomaskouns - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    If Kobe didn’t want to play in the All-Star game he is 1) is coming off major injuries & sue furies 2) has the ‘clout’ to say ‘no’ and not have to go.

    But it would look bad if he played in the All-Star game before playing for his team, so there putting the ‘he may have to play’ PR spin on it so he avoids a PR debacle.

  5. lakerade - Jan 24, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Great pt JC, it’s not so much that Kobe wants to rest or save up for games that matter as it is he simply just hasn’t played enough to merit a spot on the ASG team. Wade is just saving up for the playoffs, if Stern really wants the fans to get what they want he should monitor these veterans who keep taking games off to make sure it’s an actual injury and not just bc that night’s opponent is terrible.

  6. davidly - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    The NBA All-Star Game is the most boring spectacle in sports. No, wait, that would be the Pro Bowl, then the All-Star Game. At least the NFL has the good sense to play it after the season’s out. Play the thing in July and make it outdoors on blacktop. Then it might be a fun release, after the tension of a long season.

    • money2long - Jan 24, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      i kinda like watching all the stars on the court during the season because there’s still that tension in the air between all those players who want to win a ring that season. the dynamic of some of those guy teaming up during that moment is a little cool to see. on the other side of the spectrum, it’s fun to see them go against each other. pretty cool to see lebron vs kobe in some all star games in the past knowing they would ultimately try to fight fora spot in the finals. the fact that all those guys are on the court together at the same time during that point in the season is an element of intrigue. i can understand the idea of having it after the season, yes. however, by that point, guys’ focus has waned because there’s little undertone drama due to the fact guys will know if they havent won the chip. then it’s just a happy go lucky show. i actually like that continuous fight for something during this point in the season.

  7. metalhead65 - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    no laker fan but this is just stupid. how does playing in 6 games mean he is able to play in the all star game? even if he plays in a game or 2 before the game he won’t be logging major minutes and the days off will let him get some added rest. this does not mean they need to take away the vote from the fans but he should be able to opt out in a situation like this.

  8. monkeyhateclean - Jan 24, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Simplest way to motivate NBA vets to play in this game:

    Tell them if they decline, they’ll lose their preferential treatment from the refs the rest of the season.

  9. skinsfan2013 - Jan 24, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    The NBA should place a rule that says if you don’t participate in X amount of games, or log X amount of minutes you can not even be considered…………….its not an All Star vote, its a popularity vote with the current setup.

  10. topdawg4ever - Jan 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Actually, Kobe shouldn’t play at all this season. Not only because of the All Star game, but he won’t be helping his team at all. If he gave a crap about his team, he would sit out until next year.

  11. lbroberts123 - Jan 24, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    He still has a choice. He could just not show up.

    • omahakidw - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      Assuming he didn’t you would be willing to pay the fine that would accompany the letter from the league right?

  12. sportsfan18 - Jan 24, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Make him play? Force him?

    Nah. ALL they may do is fine him.

    They can’t put a gun to his head or to his wife’s head or to his girlfriends head or his other girlfriends head.

  13. dinofrank60 - Jan 24, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    The NBA thinks you guys want to see Kobe and DWade in the game, that’s why you voted them in.
    But, wait!!! I see comments saying that they shouldn’t be in the game. What?? All of this brings some interesting observations.
    1. The league is scared that if they let guys beg off, even for legit circumstances, it’s gonna start looking like the Pro Bowl. This year Kobe and Wade, next year Duncan and DWill. Kurt is right.
    2. Just who voted for those guys? Did they not know they are hurt? Has the entertainment factor really hijacked the sport? Don’t people know? Or care?
    3. The league will cite precedence. Earvin Johnson. I’m surprised no one’s brought that up. Or could the rumor be true, that the league didn’t exist over 20 years ago?
    4. Don David can do what ever he wants, He doesn’t want to leave Adam, the new head of the family, too many problems. Fans drive advertising, advertising drives $$$, and $$$ drives the league.
    5. Kobe will have to do what he did a couple of years ago: make a token appearance, then have the best seat in the house. Don David will let Kobe(and DWade) get away with that. Coaches will help other coaches out, even the Godfather won’t cross that street.

  14. Professor Fate - Jan 24, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    “Sorry Kobe, it doesn’t work that way. Nice try though, spinning it to be about the young players getting their chance.”

    This kind of snarky derision is one of the reasons Bryant has so many haters. After all, he’s such a shallow, selfish prick that he couldn’t possibly have been sincere with that statement. Nothing says “hack” quite like a self-fulfilling negative narrative.

    • dinofrank60 - Jan 24, 2014 at 6:04 PM

      In a sport that has its share of perceived selfish, shallow pricks, Bryant seems to have reached a new level. Could it be that the perception isn’t for what he’s done, but for what he didn’t do?

  15. eugenesaxe1 - Jan 24, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    If Kobe told Stern face-to-face “I’m not playing” and reminded Stern how many millions of dollars he’s brought to the league, you really think Stern would dare say anything back?

  16. spursareold - Jan 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM

    Kobe knows that all he has to do is sit out until after the ASG. Charles is right. He can really have no effect on their season at this point.

  17. andiroid71 - Jan 25, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    It’s the leagues fault. A player with an injury that potentially could have had him out for the whole season, should NOT have been on the ballot in the first place. However, Kobe could also have made a similar speech after the the first update of votes cast to ward people off voting for him before it got to this point…..that would have been the selfless and right thing to do…..then again so would insisting on a paycut to help the team who made him rebuild. Ego wins out again.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2786)
  2. K. Irving (2145)
  3. A. Davis (1843)
  4. K. Bryant (1621)
  5. L. James (1612)
  1. T. Thompson (1320)
  2. K. Durant (1299)
  3. B. Jennings (1231)
  4. J. Clarkson (1178)
  5. M. Leonard (1072)