The fan ballots for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, set to be played in Toronto on Valentine’s Day (good luck, couples!), were officially released on Thursday, so let the “Who’s in, who’s out?” discussion begin. The first question on everyone’s mind is: Will Kobe Bryant make it in as a lifetime achievement award? Apparently, an authority no less than commissioner Adam Silver thinks he should.
Kobe being Kobe, he’s probably got a pretty good shot at the fans voting him in as a starter — they did last year, after all. But because he’s been primarily a small forward this season, he’s on the ballot as a front court player, so the question of who would get snubbed on merit in favor of popularity has changed. It’s a shame to think that a player like, say, Kawhi Leonard might not get the All-Star start he so clearly deserves, but then again, it might be worth it to give Kobe one last signature moment like Michael Jordan had in 2003.
While All-Star nods are often used as a shorthand for accomplishment after the fact, the nature of the game as a meaningless showcase for the game’s biggest stars makes a Kobe selection an easy call. The only problem is how bad Kobe’s been. Seeing Kobe make a highlight could be nice, but is it worth seeing if it comes as a package with a 2-of-12 shooting performance and a benching in the fourth quarter? After all, MJ didn’t just have that fadeaway — he also had this embarrassing missed dunk the year before.
Either way, there’s a pretty darn good chance we’ll see some version of Kobe Bryant at the All-Star Game in February.