Welcome to Kobe Bryant Appreciation Weekend -- the NBA’s three-day, midseason circus formerly known as its All-Star break. While the best and brightest of the NBA family comes together every February for the dunk contest, the three-point contest and the star-studded game itself, this year’s iteration of the festivities seems less centered than ever on the actual on-court activities, with a large portion of Friday’s media day focused, instead, on the fireworks surrounding Bryant's last All-Star rodeo.
Despite his season-long lull in the stat lines, Bryant ran laps around his competition when it came to All-Star voting -- the 37 year old had about 285,000 more votes than reigning MVP Stephen Curry and about 800,000 more than LeBron James. But while this year’s All-Star weekend has been wonky from the start, it got even more so on Friday, as media day quickly devolved into a free-for-all, with Bryant getting the ultimate rock star treatment.
So, to try to make sense of it all, here are a handful of the weirdest things that just went down in Toronto.
Kobe’s presser became a Beatles-at-Shea-Stadium situation
Just how insane was it?
- The horde of reporters surrounding Bryant was apparently so thick that those on the outskirts couldn’t even get a peak of 6-foot-6-inch Bryant.
- At one point, Kobe was asked a question via a Michael Jordan crying face meme on someone’s iPhone. Confused? So are we.
- Media members actually gave gifts to Bryant -- a blatant conflict of interest, if there ever was one -- including a hand-drawn illustration of the Mamba himself, thanking him for his time in the league:
Even after Kobe said he’d like to only play 10 minutes in Sunday's contest, he was still given the best odds to win All-Star Game MVP
Per Bovada, Bryant is the “overwhelming favorite” (7/5) to nab the honors, with Curry coming in second (5/1).
Of course, Bryant is one of the most decorated players in All-Star history, having won four All-Star MVPs in his 18 appearances in The Game. As it stands, he’s one of only two players ever to have won four. No one has won five.
And while on Friday Kobe once more reiterated that he does not intend to go for that elusive final MVP.
... big man Anthony Davis effectively declared his intention of forcing Kobe to take the reins of the Western Conference team:
Gregg Popovich was asked a question about Drake -- and then he giggled
Something must be in the Canadian air -- not only did Pop use the word “tight” to describe his relationship with the rapper, but he also, actually, unbelievably, smiled:
Allen Iverson apparently forgot about his own impending induction into the Hall of Fame
The Philadelphia 76ers great -- along with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Yao Ming and others -- was officially deemed a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame elsewhere in Toronto on Friday afternoon. And despite having a pretty surefire chance of getting inducted this year, Iverson seemed to have missed the memo on the entire thing:
Hall of Fame induction? What Hall of Fame induction?
Remind you of anything?
Oh, All-Star Weekend. How we’ve missed you.
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