Kobe Bryant certainly likes his All-Star games. He likes going there (13 straight appearances) and he likes bringing home the hardware (Three MVP trophies). With Sunday’s East vs. West confrontation taking place at Staples Center, there’s some added incentive for a vintage Kobe performance, and perhaps a little something special for the hometown fans.
It’s been an uneven season for the Lakers team as a whole. They’ve struggled against elite competition, suffered several dubious home losses against lesser opponents and most recently have been beset with trade rumors of the Carmelo Anthony for Andrew Bynum variety.
But through it all Kobe is actually having one of the most efficient seasons of his career. At first glance, the Mamba’s production is down a bit from previous years but that fact is mostly due to a decrease in minutes (33.8 minutes per game, third lowest of his career) and less to do with an overall regression in his capabilities. In fact if you look at Kobe’s true shooting percentage, player efficiency rating and points per 40 minutes average he is ahead of last year’s pace.
Moreover as we all saw in the Lakers’ breezy victory against the Knicks last week at the world’s most famous arena, Kobe is still entirely capable of making his opponents on the court resemble mere mortals, while he carves them up with a variety of superhuman drives, fade aways, spin moves and jab fakes. Expect that Kobe to be the one that suits up on Sunday.
Next: All Eyes on L.A.