Since he made the announcement, it’s been a gradual sinking in that this will be Kobe’s last year. A tribute video here, a road crowd chanting his name there, and a whole lot of post game pressers with introspective questions and candid answers have followed and the realization that this is it becomes realer daily. This will be Kobe’s last season.
Today will be his last All-Star game. What a run it has been.
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) February 12, 2016
I won’t pretend I know what to say here. Kobe has been named an All-Star 18 times. He is a mainstay here, named a starter every year there’s been a game since 1998; named a starter even when he wasn’t a starter on his own team. And every year he has been healthy enough to participate, he has come to put on a show for the fans, bringing a level of entertainment and competitiveness that has meant something. To the fans. To his peers.
Today marks the closing of an era, at least in terms of this contest. But, the game is in great hands. From Steph to LeBron, KD to Anthony Davis, Russ to Chris Paul, Paul George to James Harden. The game’s best are as good as ever, as entertaining as ever. Just because this will be the last time Kobe is here doesn’t mean it’s the last time his influence will be felt. As he has noted over this celebratory weekend, some of the guys in this game weren’t even 5 years old when Kobe made his ASG debut in 1998. Some of these guys grew up watching him. In fact, most of them did.
Today, several of them will want to watch him one last time. Even while on the floor with him. But Kobe wants that about as much as he wants another season of his body aching so badly he struggles to walk to his car. No, like Kobe went after Michael Jordan in 1998 he wants these guys competing against him, taking it to him, tonight. If they make him look old and silly, so be it. Father time, you know.
So today, with a heaping serving of nostalgia, we celebrate Kobe one more time. Yes, there are still 27 games left in his regular season, but this is the last time we will see him with the best of the best. A group he has been a part of, no, at the top of, for most of his 20 year career. With that, enjoy the game, folks.
Where you can watch: 5:30pm start time on TNT.