The city of Los Angeles was afforded the All-Star game for 2011 and it was evident the “Black Mamba” came to strike and strike quickly. For Bryant, what will be his last All-Star game in front of his home city, he didn’t let this opportunity go to waste. His dazzling play led the West to a victory over the East 148-143; dropping in an All-Star game career high of 37 points and leading all rebounders with 14 boards. Most impressively, Bryant earned his 4th NBA All-Star game MVP trophy, tying an NBA record with the great Bob Petit.
Petit, a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 1970, played 11 seasons with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks from 1954-1965. Every season Petit was an All-Star and holds the second highest All-Star game ppg average with 20.4 only behind Oscar Robertson.
When you look at legacy, Bryant is certainly continuing to build upon a very special one. Alongside netting his 4th A.S. MVP, Kobe moved up into the fourth spot on the all-time All-Star scoring list:
1. Michael Jordan – 262 points in 13 games played
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 251 points in 18 games played
3. Oscar Robertson – 246 points in 12 games played
4. Kobe Bryant – 244 points in 12 games played
5. Bob Petit – 224 points in 11 games played
At this rate, Bryant has an opportunity, with 19 points, to become the all-time career leader in All-Star game scoring. Additionally, he has a chance to claim a 5th All-Star MVP in the host city of Orlando in 2012.
A LOOK AT KOBE’S CAREER ALL-STAR MVP PERFORMANCES
In 2002, Kobe Bryant had an opportunity to return to his hometown of Philadelphia in a special All-Star game appearance. Back then, rockin’ the afro and purple Lakers jersey, Bryant had come off a 2001 NBA Finals victory of the Philadelphia 76’ers.
It was no surprise that Bryant received a rude reception from the hometown, but it didn’t defer him from netting a game-high 31 points and leading the West to victory 135-120. Kobe earned himself his first All-Star game MVP despite the mixed reception.
“I’m happy I played well,” Bryant said. “I’m happy to win MVP in Philadelphia, and the booing was just hurtful. But it’s not going to ruin this day for me.”
The East had taken four of the previous five All-Star games from the West. The West came back with authority, with Bryant upstaging every Eastern move. It was a night that was the first of many special moments for Kobe, despite the mixed reception.
Kobe Bryant 2002 All-Star Game Stats:
31 Points on 12-25
In 2007, some were calling it the biggest show in town. That’s quite a feat considering the All-Star game appeared under the bright lights of Las Vegas. The stage was set for Bryant who took opportunity and, ironically like 2002 in his first All-Star MVP performance, dropped in 31 points to capture his second career All-Star MVP.
The West dominated the East 153-132. Bryant scored 11 in the second quarter to give the West a comfortable lead at halftime. Not only did Kobe end the game with 31 points, but he was also instrumental in impressive movement of the ball claiming six assists of the West’s All-Star record 52 assists.
It’s also fun to note that Kobe started as the West’s PG. He got the crowd going early and often with an array of flashy dunks including jaw-dropping 1-handed jams down the lane in traffic. Bryant’s then signature baseline-reverse jams were also on display in Vegas. Unlike Philly in 2002, the Vegas crowd roared with cheers and chants for the MVP of 2007 NBA All-Star game.
“We had lost two in a row, so we all made it a point to come out and go for it,” Bryant said afterwards. “Nobody wants to lose three in a row.”
Kobe Bryant 2007 All-Star Game Stats:
31 Points on 13-24
2009 brought us a reunion of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal; who earned co-MVP honors. The West defeated the East 146-119. It was the first time the two had played in the same jersey since they were last Lakers teammates. Shaq even coined a nickname for the duo, “The Big Legendaries,” O’Neal said.
Bryant led all scorers with 27 points but made an effort to look for Shaq and get the big fella going as he did during their reign over the NBA not too long ago. “It felt like old times,” O’Neal said. “I miss those times. He was really looking for me, especially when we went to a pick-and-roll and they had Rashard Lewis on me.”
Shaq played just 11 minutes, but made a big impact with his limited time with 17 points. With the aid of Kobe, the West was too much to handle for the East. It was also the nostalgia of seeing the two old championship teammates connecting that made it such a memorable All-Star game.
Phil Jackson also spoke on the performance, “I think it is a great life lesson for people,” said West coach Phil Jackson, who led O’Neal and Bryant to their titles with the Lakers. “This is something that the people work together, people find a way to get through situations, find harmony in their life, find cohabitation.”
Bryant and O’Neal both moved up the record books tying Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only three-time All Star MVPs. Kobe talked about the moment he shared with Shaq. “We are not going to go back to the room and watch ‘Steel Magnolias’ or something like that, you know what I’m saying, crying, all that stuff,” Bryant said. “We had a good time. That’s all.”
A good time indeed, but the focus of winning was top priority for Kobe, “We wanted to be aggressive,” Bryant said. “We lost last year and we wanted to make sure we came out here and played the game hard, and come out with a win.”
Kobe Bryant 2009 All-Star Game Stats:
27 Points on 12-23
The most recent All-Star game took place in the city of Los Angeles. Kobe acknowledged it would be his last opportunity for him to perform in front of his hometown. He also made sure it would be a highly memorable one for the fans. Bryant dropped in 37 points and 14 rebounds leading the West to a 148-143 victory.
“It feels great, being at home here and playing in front of the home crowd,” Bryant said after receiving the MVP trophy. “This will be my last All-Star game in front of these home fans, so it feels good to do it.”
Despite Bryant’s dominant performance, he talked about the next generation and how important it is to him.
“It’s not about that for me at this point in my career,” Bryant said. “I’ve been there … it’s very important for the game to continue to have young stars emerge. It’s great for the league to get behind Blake and what he’s doing … it’s important for me to step aside.”
Bryant, on this night however, dazzled his way to his 4th NBA All-Star game MVP. From an array of high flying dunks including a fast break stare-down jam over LeBron James to his signature fadeaway jumpers, Kobe had it clicking on all cylinders.
Bryant’s performance also goes down as one of the best of all time. Kobe became the first person since George Gervin in 1980 to record a 30-point, 10-rebound performance in the All-Star game. The only other players to accomplish this feat were Julius Erving, Bob McAdoo and Wilt Chamberlain. Additionally, Bryant’s 37-point game was the 4th highest scoring output in an All-Star game tying Kevin Garnett (2003).
Bryant made history in his hometown. A moment he will surely cherish in his storied career. And despite all the accolades, Bryant still has a chance to make history and gain a 5th All-Star MVP. Orlando, here comes the “Black Mamba” next All-Star game in 2012.
Kobe Bryant 2011 All-Star Game Stats:
37 Points on 14-26