Kobe tops Steph, LeBron, KD in first round of 2016 All-Star voting

Dan Devine
December 25, 2015
Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 22: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after making a shot against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on December 22, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 111-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The NBA released the first round of voting results for the 2016 All-Star Game on Friday, and it sure looks like fans want to see Kobe Bryant head to Toronto and suit up for one more mid-February exhibition classic.

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The Los Angeles Lakers superstar leads all vote-getters at the end of the first round, receiving 719,235 votes — more than 200,000 clear of reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (510,202), who topped last year's All-Star balloting, and more than twice as many as LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (357,937), who has received the most votes of any Eastern Conference player.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently said he believed the 37-year-old Bryant "deserves" to be an All-Star in this, his 20th and final NBA season. Strictly on the merits, that's not really true; Kobe might not be "the 200th-best player in the league" anymore, now that he's got his legs back under him and is pocketing some of the unsightly jumpers he was taking earlier this season, but even his recent strong run of form — 20.4 points on 45.5 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds, four assists and one steal in 29.5 minutes per game over his last eight outings — probably doesn't make him one of the dozen best players in the Western Conference. (Bryant, for his part, recently said "it would be great to play in" the All-Star Game, but that he'd also be fine with not getting voted in.)

Then again, y'know ... who cares? The All-Star Game is an exhibition, a celebration of the NBA's gift for spectacle and its larger-than-life characters at least as much as it's an attempt at accurately honoring the 24 individuals who have played at the highest level between Halloween and Valentine's Day.

The fans get their say, and they're saying they want to see Kobe play in his 18th All-Star Game — which would be second-most ever, behind only the 19 appearances of fellow Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — and add a few points to his all-time All-Star scoring record before ending his career, as he famously announced last month that he intends to do after this season. Basketball lovers the world over, apparently, want to embrace the Viking funeral. Let's do it, and let's cross our fingers that donning a Western Conference All-Star uniform with raptor claws on it in Toronto creates the sort of rip in the space-time continuum that can create what the Mamba calls "an 81 situation."

The other notable early element: fans are excited enough about the prospect of seeing Kyrie Irving play that they've cast more votes for him — despite him playing only two games this season, as he missed the first 24 games of the 2015-16 campaign while rehabilitating after surgery to repair a fractured kneecap — than any Eastern Conference guard not named Dwyane Wade. You've got your marching orders, fans of Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and John Wall: Vote early, and vote often.

Reminder: Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when voting for starters — for what it's worth, this is the first year Kobe's listed as a frontcourt player rather than a guard — and you can vote here. Here's the full breakdown of voting as of the first round of returns:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

FRONTCOURT

1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: 357,937 votes
2. Paul George, Indiana Pacers: 283,785
3. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: 148,278
4. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: 132,119
5. Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls: 109,585
6. Kevin Love, Cavaliers: 92,177
7. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: 91,896
8. Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks: 85,606
9. Hassan Whiteside, Heat: 72,923
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: 25,926
11. Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors: 12,341
12. Joakim Noah, Bulls: 10,808
13. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: 10,501
14. Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards: 9,443
15. DeMarre Carroll, Raptors: 8,885

BACKCOURT

1. Dwyane Wade, Heat: 300,595
2. Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers: 138,191
3. Kyle Lowry, Raptors: 128,131
4. Jimmy Butler, Bulls: 111,220
5. John Wall, Wizards: 103,094
6. Derrick Rose, Bulls: 72,709
7. DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: 69,042
8. Jeremy Lin, Charlotte Hornets: 61,832
9. Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics: 45,014
10. Nicolas Batum, Hornets: 20,596

WESTERN CONFERENCE

FRONTCOURT

1. Kobe Bryant, Lakers: 719,235
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: 349,473
3. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: 182,107
4. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs: 164,521
5. Draymond Green, Warriors: 160,350
6. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: 156,161
7. Tim Duncan, Spurs: 127,543
8. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings: 101,930
9. Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets: 66,598
10. LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs: 65,019
11. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: 56,377
12. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: 49,696
13. Enes Kanter, Thunder: 47,806
14. Harrison Barnes, Warriors: 43,343
15. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves: 42,285

BACKCOURT

1. Stephen Curry, Warriors: 510,202
2. Russell Westbrook, Thunder: 267,699
3. Chris Paul, Clippers: 146,335
4. Klay Thompson, Warriors: 138,587
5. James Harden, Rockets: 135,531
6. Rajon Rondo, Kings: 66,164
7. Andre Iguodala, Warriors: 62,407
8. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: 47,615
9. Manu Ginobili, Spurs: 42,413
10. Tony Parker, Spurs: 40,693

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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