LOS ANGELES -- This was supposed to be a tribute to a unique accomplishment by Kobe Bryant … except Kobe wasn't having any part of it.
With the All-Star Game back in Los Angeles, Bryant is the only player since the NBA-ABA merger to make two All-Star Game appearances in his home arena in a single city. When I brought that to his attention, he didn't seem impressed.
"Is that supposed to mean anything?" he said.
I added this: Of the 24 players who participated in the 2004 All-Star Game at Staples Center, only Bryant and six others have stayed with their same respective teams in the seven years that have elapsed. And of those six -- Paul Pierce in Boston, Tim Duncan in San Antonio, Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, Andrei Kirilenko in Utah, Michael Redd in Milwaukee and Yao Ming in Houston -- only Pierce, Duncan and Nowitzki will be back at the All-Star Game.
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are still All-Stars, only now they're in Boston. Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal are in Boston, too, but no longer earn trips to the league's showcase game. Tracy McGrady has gone from one of the top scorers in the league to a point guard for lottery-bound Detroit. Some scattered across the globe in order to keep playing, Steve Francis to China and Allen Iverson to Turkey.
LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant won his record-tying fourth All-Star game MVP award to the delight of his hometown fans, scoring 37 points and propelling the West to a 148-143 victory over the East in the NBA's midseason showcase on Sunday night.
The Los Angeles Lakers' veteran guard put on another show among stars at the 60th All-Star game, also grabbing 14 rebounds and overcoming LeBron James' triple-double for the East.
Clearly pushing for another trophy against an East roster stacked with rival Celtics and Heat, Bryant matched Bob Pettit's NBA record with his fourth MVP award in just 10 years.
"Being at home, I wanted to come out and play hard, put on a good show," the 32-year-old Bryant said. "This will be my last All-Star game in front of these home fans, so it feels good to be here."
Although the protracted courtship of West starter Carmelo Anthony dominated much of the All-Star weekend discussion, Kobe gave the Los Angeles crowd another memory to go with Clippers rookie Blake Griffin's dunk contest win on Saturday.
James had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the East, but Miami teammate Dwyane Wade limped off in the third quarter. Wade finished with 14 points.
Bryant didn't score in the final 6:48, falling short of Wilt Chamberlain's All-Star game record of 42 points in 1962.
Bryant won the All-Star MVP trophy in 2002 and 2007 before sharing it with Shaquille O'Neal in 2009. Pettit won four MVP awards with the St. Louis Hawks from 1956-62.
NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant had 34 points for the West, and New York's Amare Stoudemire had 29 for the East.
The West maintained a steady lead against an East team with a combined seven players from Boston and Miami, arguably the top contenders to replace the back-to-back champion Lakers.
Back-to-back baskets by Amare Stoudemire and James trimmed the margin to 142-140 in the final moments. Bryant then missed a jumper, but Lakers teammate Pau Gasol tipped home the rebound.
After two free throws by Chris Paul, Boston's Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left, but Durant finished it with two free throws.
Boston placed a record-tying four players on the squad, led by 14-time All-Star Kevin Garnett, while the Heat sent league MVP James alongside Bosh and Wade, last season's All-Star MVP in the East's two-point win at Cowboys Stadium.
Anthony had eight points and seven rebounds in less than 23 minutes as a West starter -- and perhaps the NBA's most hottest property was a bit distracted.
The Nuggets forward apparently spent the weekend working on his agonizingly protracted separation from Denver. Los Angeles was abuzz with rumors of talks with management from New York and New Jersey throughout the weekend, but the 'Melodrama had no resolution before the game.
Anthony also picked up three early fouls -- no small feat in a game where officials typically swallow their whistles.
Anthony even got a smattering of boos in the first quarter when he chose a layup over a dunk on a breakaway. Bryant remedied that moments later, hovering underneath the rim before throwing down a two-handed jam on the other side.