Will Kobe sit out the All Star Game?


Update: Kobe Bryant will sit out the Lakers game Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs, the second consecutive game is has not dressed for the Lakers. The MRI confirmed it is just a sprain, no tears or other serious damage. Phil Jackson said, however, that this will have no bearing on whether or not he plays in the All-Star Game in Dallas this weekend.

“I think if he feels like he can play, he’s going to play,” said
Jackson. “He’s not going to sit out just because that might extend the
duration (for) which he doesn’t have to play.”

From 2/7: Kobe sat out a game.

He did it (or didn’t do it, as it were) Saturday night in Portland. That in and of itself is big news, as Kobe pretty much comes off as the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (“It’s just a flesh wound.”).
But that could be just the start — he may take off a couple more games and the All Star Game.

Phil Jackson said it would be up to Kobe when he plays again but he would let him take off all the time he needs. That’s subtle Phil, he knows from dealing with other highly competitive superstars that telling them what to do isn’t the way you get things done, you need to convince them it is their idea. The fact the Lakers won without Kobe in their own house of horrors — the Portland Rose Garden — may convince him the team can live without him for a few games. And the parties in Dallas will go on with or without him (although Kobe hates to disappoint fans and not play in these types of exhibitions).

Other teammates also don’t know what Kobe is going to do.

Fish said Kobe might play Monday but “he may decide just to push it to the (All-Star) break and really get himself back.”

For a veteran team like the Lakers, what matters is the games in April (and beyond), not a February Monday night game against the Spurs. This team knows what it takes to climb the mountain, and regular season games don’t affect their confidence. What matters in Los Angeles is a healthy Kobe in the playoffs (and the run up to it), and despite his warrior mentality a week off to heal his body may be good for him and the team. Probably would be.

But does he want it? That is another question entirely.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.