In what will be future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant’s 18th and final NBA All-Star Game, his Western Conference team will be going for its fifth victory in six years Sunday as a consensus five-point betting favorite against the East at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
Bryant will be the sentimental pick to win a record fifth All-Star MVP award at 7-1 odds, although three others have lower prices than him, including two of his West teammates.
The Los Angeles Lakers star will retire at the end of this season, and he was the top vote-getter ahead of reigning league MVP Stephen Curry of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Bryant is also the All-Star Game’s all-time leading scorer, but he is suffering through one of the worst statistical years of his 20-year career for the lowly Lakers, averaging just 16.9 points on 34.9 percent shooting from the field.
Curry is the favorite to win NBA All-Star Game MVP honors for the first time at 3-1; he has led the Warriors to a better mark at the break than the Chicago Bulls during their record-setting 1995-96 campaign.
LeBron James of the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers is the 6-1 second choice to win his second All-Star MVP, followed by Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder at 13-2.
Durant’s teammate Russell Westbrook won the award last year in a 163-158 win for the West at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and he is tied with Bryant at 7-1 to repeat.
Two other marquee events during NBA All-Star Weekend are the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Contest. Defending three-point champ Curry and Golden State teammate Klay Thompson have both entered the field again, and they are the top two favorites to win it this year.
Curry is 1-1, followed by Thompson at 4-1 and J.J. Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers at 9-2. Rookie Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Kyle Lowry of the host Toronto Raptors are at 15-2, with James Harden of the Houston Rockets at 12-1. Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat round off the field at 16-1.
In the Slam Dunk Contest, defending champ Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves is a heavy 1-3 favorite to repeat versus only three other competitors. Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic is the 4-1 second choice to win, followed by Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets at 11-2 and Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons at 17-2.