LOS ANGELES -- Vote for Kobe Bryant as an All-Star?
Kobe Bryant wouldn't.
The Los Angeles Lakers star said Sunday he preferred fans vote for younger players to participate in the midseason showcase Feb. 16 in New Orleans because he did not anticipate playing at a high level by then as he recovers from a broken bone in his left knee.
"I probably won't be able to come back soon enough to be able to make my stamp or make my mark on the game," Bryant said, "so my advice would be to vote for some of the younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they're more than deserving to be out there and playing that weekend."
Unfortunately for Bryant, he may be outnumbered. By a million or more.
As of the last tally, Bryant led fan voting among backcourt players in both conferences with 723,031 votes.
He has been selected an All-Star 15 times overall and in each of the last 14 seasons. He did not play in 2010 because of an injury.
Bryant said he was conflicted about playing in the game this season because he has appeared in only six games with the Lakers because of the injury to his knee and a previously torn Achilles tendon.
"You want to feel like you deserve to be in the game and play," he said, "but then there's the other side of the argument where you've put in a lot of work over the years and fans, if they vote you in, you want to go out there and show your appreciation and respect to them. So I think it's always a delicate balance.
"But from where I come from, I really enjoy watching what the young guys are doing and how they're performing, and even though there's so much respect that comes from me to be able to play for the fans, I'd much rather see the young guys going out there and playing the game because they've obviously put the work in to be there that weekend."
Bryant's work recently has been confined to a bicycle as he continues his comeback from the knee injury he suffered Dec. 17 against Memphis. He's about halfway through the six-week timetable given for his recovery and won't resume practicing until an MRI exam shows his fracture has healed.
Kendall Marshall was a minor sensation on social media after his breakthrough performance for the Lakers on Friday. The point guard picked up thousands of followers on Twitter and was trending heavily, at least among Lakers followers.
His most accomplished teammate didn't seem to notice.
Bryant did not comply with Marshall's request to follow him on Twitter after Marshall tweeted: "@kobebryant #followback?" on Saturday. It was nothing personal; Bryant was just occupied with other things.
"I mean, it's hard for me to go check my mentions and all," Bryant said. "I didn't even know that happened, but now that I know I'll follow him."
Marshall said he was amused with a picture posted on Twitter showing him side by side with Vlade Divac, a vague look-alike who also wore No. 12 for the Lakers. His first take was a little different.
"whoever (sic) made that," Marshall tweeted, "I hope you run into a coffee table with your shin."
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