The NBA commissioner will happily insert himself into that.
I hope to see him there. I think he deserves to be there.
He’s going to retire as one of the NBA’s greatest players.
He’s done, even beyond his play on the floor, he’s played as great a role as anyone in international expansion of the game. Right now, I’d say in China, there’s still Kobe and everyone else. I think because he was such a hit there when he was there with the national team for the Beijing Olympics, and I know he’s made so many trips to China over the course of his career in the NBA. I think the same thing in India and Africa and Latin America and of course Europe, where he grew up. He’s just one of those great global ambassadors of the NBA. And I hope in the same way that Dikembe Mutombo now is a global ambassador of the NBA that we find a way to keep Kobe involved.
So, we’ll what the fans and the coaches decide, and then,we’ll go from there.
“Deserves” is a funny word choice. Kobe is having one of the worst seasons in the league. He’s shooting both terribly (31% from the field, 22% on 3-pointers) and frequently (third among NBA regulars in shots per possession). He’s also contributing less in non-scoring facets than ever.
Personally, I don’t like to use All-Star selections as a lifetime achievement award. They play the game every year. Players should earn a berth every year. If the game were held once a decade, sure, reward Kobe. But he made it every season he earned it through on-court merit. Let that be enough.
Fans will almost certainly vote Kobe a starter, anyway. They’ve done so for the last 17 All-Star games, and nostalgia in the wake of Kobe’s retirement announcement makes him only a stronger candidate.
But if fans somehow don’t vote in Kobe, and Western Conferences coaches – who select the reserves – don’t pick him, it could fall to Silver. The NBA Commissioner selects injury replacements, and he’s clearly pro-Kobe. Silver doesn’t even hide the reason. Kobe makes the NBA more marketable internationally.
Again, it’d be completely shocking if Kobe’s All-Star appearance hinges on Silver. But this should raise questions about Silver’s methodology for All-Star selections. How often and how much does he consider financial implications when picking injury replacements?
The All-Star game obviously isn’t some sacred measure of players’ ability. Maybe it’s OK that Silver considers the bottom line. After all, the fan vote is just an indirect way of doing the same.