Kobe: Damian Lillard Should Start All-Star Game, Not Me

Published on 6-Jan-2014 by Stacey Mickles

Basketball - NBA    NBA Daily Update

Share this article

Kobe: Damian Lillard Should Start All-Star Game, Not Me

The self-proclaimed Black Mamba has been criticized -- and often, justifiably so -- for being the center of his own universe.

But one thing Kobe Bryant has always done is respect the game and the athletes who play it.

So, despite the fact that he's been sidelined for the bulk of the NBA season to date due to injuries, he currently finds himself holding down second place in fan voting for the Western Conference All-Stars. This year's game is set for New Orleans on 16 February.

To his credit, given his limited status, Bryant thinks a newbie should take his place

“I really enjoy watching what the younger guys are doing and how they’re performing. Even though there’s so much respect from me to be able to go out there and play for the fans, I’d much rather see the young guys play in the game because they’ve obviously put the work in to be in it. I’d much rather go out there and see them participate.

“I probably won’t be able to come back soon enough to put my stamp or make my mark on the game, so my advice would be to focus on these younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they’re more than deserving to be playing on that weekend.”

That's pretty cool of Kobe to say 'don't vote for me.'

Most NBA stars would gag on those words.

Back to Lillard. He's continuing his solid career for the Portland Trail Blazers -- averaging 21 points per game, among other things -- but sits eighth in Western Conference voting. He's already compiling a lengthy highlight package:

Obviously, Portland is still a state secret to many NBA fans. Maybe now that he's been endorsed by Bryant, Lillard will actually move up the list.