Kobe Bryant finally met with the All-Star media Saturday, after bowing out of Friday’s session saying he was sick. He was the last of the All-Stars to make an appearance at the NBA Jam Session at the Orlando Convention Center, and was immediately mobbed by the answer hungry throng which pushed and shoved its way to the fence-like barricade which surely kept the league’s top vote getter from being trampled and crushed, or worse.
For Bryant, who garnered more than 1.5 million votes, it is his 14th-straight All-Star game, which ties him with Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone. He was friendly and jovial, and seemingly was enjoying the give and take that is always the media during All-Star weekend.
Even this exchange:
Reporter: “Kobe, if the Clippers were in the finals would you root for them?”
Kobe: “You had to ask me that. Glad I was sick the other day.”
Reporter: “Would you watch them if they’re in the finals?’’
Kobe: “I’d be on an island somewhere. How about that?”
Ah, yes, the questions behind the circus that is cameras and recorders.
Bryant says he understands the magnitude of what he has accomplished as an All-Star and his place in history. And ever competitive, naturally plans to win representing the Western Conference Sunday night. He’s been named MVP four times, including last year in Los Angeles, and even though this is Dwight Howard’s town, most expect Bryant to try to do what Magic Johnson did here 20 years ago, and bring home another one.
Andrew Bynum, the other Los Angeles Lakers starter, who is playing in his first All-Star game, said he also marveled at the questions of reporters who surrounded him Friday at the team hotel and at Saturday’s Jam Session.
“Are you into shoes?” one asked Saturday.
“No, not really,” Bynum said, glancing down at his bright red and black pair with multi-colored laces.
Bynum said his knee, which was injected with a lubricant by a nearby doctor on Friday, was a little sore, but that he planned to start Sunday, adding that his minutes would be limited.
He said he learned of rumors that former Blazer-Piston-Celtic Rasheed Wallace would come out of retirement and sign with the Lakers from his family, but hadn’t been told anything definitely. He added that he thought the addition “would be great. We’d definitely be big.”
“It shows L.A. is something,” Bynum said. “It’s actually pretty cool. We play four games against each other and we all know each other, I think it’s going to be fun.”