This appears on nba.com
It Could Be Another Special Performance
by rick olivares
It was heartwarming to read that Kobe Bryant is asking for fans to vote to the NBA’s All-Star Game, players like Portland’s Damian Lilliard, who is having a great season, as opposed to him.
Fans, who are part and parcel of the NBA’s mid-season classic, have been voting for Bryant despite having only played a handful of games due to injuries.
My initial reaction was Black Mamba should sit this one out and give way to the younger players. But as I stewed on it, I think that he should play.
You know why? There could be magic in the air once again. And here are two shining examples.
In 1992, Ervin “Magic” Johnson retired because he contracted the HIV virus. Yet fans weren’t just ready to say goodbye to the basketball great who was in the twilight of a Hall of Fame career. So they voted for him to be on the starting line-up.
It wasn’t that simple though as some former Los Angeles teammates said to the media that Magic should sit it out as the game was for active players.
Nevertheless, Magic played and he tallied 25 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and two steals in a 153-113 rout of the East.
The final moments of the game went into basketball lore as he was guarded in consecutive possessions, first by Isaiah Thomas and second by Michael Jordan. Each time, he swished a triple.
Magic was named Most Valuable Player of the Game.
The second instance took place 11 years after Johnson’s magical game.
In 2003, Michael Jordan, now ravaged by injuries and on his way out of the NBA. He wasn’t voted as a starter for the East but the media and some vocal fans felt that Vince Carter should give up his starting slot to His Airness. Carter declined and that invited unfair criticism.
The East’s leading vote getter Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers offered their spots on the starting roster but Jordan declined. Finally, Carter relented.
In the game’s waning moments and the score tied at 136 in overtime, the East’s Jason Kidd found Jordan on the right flank. With the seconds slipping away, His Airness swished that patented fadeaway over a long-armed Shawn Marion for a bucket with 4.38 seconds left (he missed a similar shot at the end of regulation). But Kobe Bryant would steal Jordan’s thunder when he hit two of three free throws to send the game in overtime (after a controversial call on Jermaine O’Neal). Kevin Garnett won the game in the second overtime after he drilled three shots over Vince Carter in a 155-145 victory.
In 1992, Magic Johnson turned the torch over to Michael Jordan. In 2003, it was Jordan’s turn to hand over the baton to Bryant whose Lakers team was going for a fourth straight title.
Now it’s 2014 with Bryant on his last legs after what is a Hall of Fame career. I say let him play – barring any injuries – on February 16 at the New Orleans Arena. No doubt, he’ll be officially turning over the reins of the NBA to another superstar (hint: he brought over his talents to South Beach) or someone else.
And I am sure that history will be repeating itself. Prepare yourself for magic in the air. Trilogy.