Kobe Bryant remains someone both fans and reporters want to see and hear from more than almost anyone in the NBA, but Bryant will not be attending the upcoming All-Star Weekend in New York, according to league sources.
Bryant is in the early recovery stages from a surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, and it's not a pleasant process: considerable ongoing pain and his arm immobilized in a sling.
The NBA usually mandates injured players selected to the All-Star team still appear. But unlike last season, when Bryant was in New Orleans at All-Star Weekend, despite a knee injury that also meant he wouldn’t play, he has already been ruled out for the rest of this season. He wasn’t determined out for the 2013-14 campaign until mid-March last year.
Bryant was, predictably, a popular figure at All-Star 2014. His pregame news conference in New Orleans was better attended than all of the other press conferences combined that weekend.
So Bryant will certainly be missed in New York. His first All-Star Game appearance was also at Madison Square Garden in 1998, and it was a celebrated event with Bryant from the West squaring off against Michael Jordan of the East.
Bryant, 36, is two weeks into recovery from his shoulder surgery, with an estimated timetable of nine months. He was voted by the fans to be an All-Star starter, his 17th selection to the game. He has a new Nike sneaker and a Showtime documentary premiering Feb. 28, but he won’t make the All-Star trip just to promote those.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar has said he plans to play one more season. The 2016 NBA All-Star Game—presumably Bryant’s last one, assuming he is voted in, as expected—is set for Toronto on Feb. 14, 2016. It will be the first time the NBA All-Star Game is held outside the United States in the 65-year history of the event.
Kevin Ding is an NBA senior writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinDing.