Los Angeles, CA – February 21, 2011 – Bryant won his record-tying fourth All-Star MVP award Sunday night with 37 points and 14 rebounds in the West’s 148-143 win over the East. Bryant was well aware he had a chance to tie Bob Pettit’s mark – and so were his fellow All-Stars.
“He deserved it,” Durant said. “Thirty-seven and 14? That’s unbelievable numbers. I wanted him to get 40, but the old fella kind of tired out a little bit.”
LeBron James racked up a silky-smooth triple-double. Kevin Durant dropped 34 points in 30 minutes. Amare Stoudemire slammed and jammed his way through Staples Center for 29 points.
And the NBA’s younger stars still were thrilled when Kobe Bryant took home one more MVP trophy from the All-Star game Sunday night.
“Everyone wanted him to get the MVP,” said Miami’s Dwyane Wade, last season’s MVP. “He came out very aggressive, as aggressive as I’ve seen anybody in an All-Star game.”
Both All-Star teams seemingly deferred to Bryant for much of the night, finding him on fast breaks and clearing a path for his dunks – a rarity these days for Bryant, who prefers to conserve the bounce in his aching knees. Bryant even threw down a slam against James’ defense in the third quarter, following it up with a 3-pointer.
“I’ve been there, you know what I mean?” Bryant said. “It’s not about that for me at this point in my career. It’s very important for the game to continue to have young stars emerge. … It’s important for me to step aside. It’s about me coming out and performing and staying healthy, and doing the right things after 15 years.”
Although Bryant is just 32, the Philadelphia prep-to-pro star is in his 15th NBA season, and several current All-Stars – particularly young Los Angeles natives Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love – grew up watching his partnership with Shaquille O’Neal during the Lakers’ first three-peat. That reverence is reflected throughout the season, but was particularly obvious in this exhibition.
Bryant fell short of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star record 42 points in 1962, but not for lack of trying by his teammates. He went scoreless in the final 6:48.
“I wish we could have,” New Orleans guard Chris Paul said. “But Kobe is one of those guys who has been in the league for 13 years, but it seems like he’s getting younger, so he’ll have another opportunity.”