The 2011 NBA All-Star Game will be held in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 20, and the Staples Center fans will have a familiar name to cheer when lineups are introduced. Kobe Bryant was the leading vote-getter in the NBA, and has been named a starting guard for the Western Conference for the 13th time in his career. Bryant, who was named an All-Star starter but missed the game with a sprained left ankle, has won three All-Star MVP awards in his career (2002, 2007, and 2009). The starters were announced on TNT tonight.
Bryant is averaging 24.9 points per game this season, sixth in the NBA, but his scoring average is his lowest in seven seasons. However, Kobe's Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 24.7, his highest total in four years. Bryant has led the Western Conference in All-Star voting in each of the last four seasons. He also led the NBA in All-Star votes in 2003.
Here are the Western Conference starters:
- Point Guard: Chris Paul, New Orleans
- Shooting Guard: Bryant
- Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Denver
- Power Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
- Center: Yao Ming, Houston
Yao is out for the season, and will need to be replaced. Pau Gasol, who was third in voting among forwards in the West, could be a candidate to replace Yao in the starting lineup. Gasol started 31 games at center this season before Andrew Bynum was hurt. Gregg Popovich, coach of the NBA-best San Antonio Spurs, will coach the Western Conference.
For more news on Kobe Bryant, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.