There are three layers of NBA All-Star voting. Fans pick the starters. Coaches pick the reserves. The commissioner picks the injury replacements.
Kobe Bryant would clear all three.
Fans are voting for him at an overwhelming rate. He’ll definitely start in Toronto next month.
But if they somehow hadn’t – yeah, right – Lakers coach Byron Scott said he and his peers would’ve taken care of it. (And if that somehow failed, Adam Silver said Kobe should be in the game.)
But what if the fan vote did not exist, and instead, coaches selected the entire team themselves? Would they still choose Bryant?
“I think the coaches would, yeah,” Lakers head coach Byron Scott said. “Out of respect.”
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan’s take is nearly identical: “I don’t want to speak for all the coaches, but it would be more of a respect thing in terms of what he’s done in this league for a long period of time…You look at all the championships and the individual accolades and those kind of things, but I think one of his greatest qualities is he’s an unbelievable competitor that thrives in that environment.”
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, who served as an assistant with the Lakers during the 2011-12 season, agrees.
“It’s just a testament to what he’s meant to the game,” Snyder said.
As Kobe’s coach, Scott has incentive to endorse him. Similarly, Donovan and Snyder are probably inclined to go with the flow. If fans are going to vote in Kobe anyway, why make waves?
I also believe Scott is correct. Kobe is getting a sendoff like none other, and coaches would gladly participate.
Personally, I wouldn’t make Kobe an All-Star. The game is held annually, and the best players that year should go. Save lifetime achievement awards for honors given once – Hall of Fame induction, jersey retirement, etc. Kobe was one of the best guards in the Western Conference for 15 seasons that had an All-Star game. Let those selections be enough. They honored his greatness.
But I recognize the system works differently, and I’m far from complaining. Kobe playing in his final All-Star game will be a cool moment. To the people in charge, that matters more than recognizing the best players – and that’s totally fine.
An overwhelming consensus, from Silver to coaches to fans, wants to see Kobe in Toronto.