Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was always going to be the center of attention at his 18th and final All-Star Game this Sunday in Toronto. Nevertheless, the NBA made a special point of honoring one of the best players in league history at the Air Canada Centre.
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The lengthy tribute began with a video of Kobe's career highlights, including several buzzer-beaters and prolific scoring nights, following player introductions and the singing of the national anthems. Fellow Lakers great Magic Johnson then took to a microphone to speak about everything Kobe has meant to the franchise and league, after which he introduced a second video tribute noting Bryant's talents. Finally, Kobe himself spoke about what his career has meant and his role in passing on his legacy to younger All-Stars.
Take a look at the special tribute here:
The crowd also started chanting Kobe's name:
It's an open question as to whether the league needed to produce more than one tribute video for the occasion, but a Magic Johnson intro is much more sensible than a personalized Mariah Carey concert as far as All-Star Game tributes for retiring legends go. These videos were over the top, insofar as most people do not receive elaborate tributes when retiring from their professions, but in good taste in the context of the NBA. Plus, it's not as if Magic and Drake were wearing matching Kobe jackets.
Bryant finished the West's 196-173 win with 10 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, a fine showing despite the fact that LeBron James outscored him by three to set a new record for career All-Star points. No matter — Kobe got the greatest gift of all when he was subbed out with 66 seconds remaining in regulation:
Not a bad All-Star sendoff, all things considered.
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