Kobe Bryant: Fans Should Vote for Damian Lillard, Not Me, as All-Star Starter

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIJanuary 6, 2014

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Los Angeles Lakers star shooting guard Kobe Bryant has suggested that fans should vote for Portland Trail Blazers floor general Damian Lillard instead of him for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, via Eric Pincus of Hoopsworld.

In just six games played during the 2013-14 season, Bryant averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 5.7 turnovers per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from three-point range.

According to the second returns of NBA All-Star balloting, Bryant is the leading vote-getter in the Western Conference backcourt with 723,031 votes.

The Black Mamba missed the first 19 games of the season while recovering from an Achilles tear he suffered in April. In his sixth game back against the Memphis Grizzlies, he suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. Bryant still has at least a few weeks left on his original six-week recovery timetable.

Lillard, meanwhile, has helped lead Portland to a 26-8 record. He's averaging 21.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting a scorching-hot 44.3 percent from downtown.

The Trail Blazers point guard also drained back-to-back game-winning shots against the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers in December:

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According to the second returns of All-Star balloting, however, Lillard ranks eighth in the Western Conference backcourt with 105,880 votes.

This is a classy move from Bryant, considering that the NBA legend may not even be healthy enough to play during All-Star Weekend. He said the following, according to Sean Meagher of The Oregonian:

I probably won't be able to come back (to the Lakers) soon enough to be able to make my stamp or be able to make my mark on a game. So my advice would be to focus on younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they're more than deserving to be out there and playing that weekend.

Bryant wants fans to reward Lillard's All-Star-caliber play (along with other young players), and this endorsement acts as a hat tip toward Portland's rising star.