Soon-to-retire Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant led all players in voting for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Thursday night, but the 37-year-old’s inclusion in the Western Conference’s starting lineup wasn’t the only big surprise.
Bryant was picked to play in his 18th All-Star game as he plays his final NBA season. Despite his numbers declining across the board and the Lakers near the bottom of the West standings.
But fans were intent on seeing Bryant amidst the NBA’s other top stars, as he topped all other players with more than 1.8 million votes from fans. Bryant will start along side Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard in the frontcourt, and Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.
Curry, who’s not only on pace to shatter his own three-point shooting record and currently leads the league in scoring while Golden State guns for the best record in league history, received 1.6 million votes and joined Bryant and Cleveland’s LeBron James as the only players to garner one million or more tallies.
James beat out every other star in the Eastern Conference with nearly 1.1 million votes, and he’ll play alongside Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Pacers forward Paul George, and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony and Leonard received a major boost from fans over the last week. New York’s leading scorer was at first behind Pistons big man Andre Drummond but surged ahead for the lowest vote total among all the starters at more than 567,000.
San Antonio’s Leonard, in the middle of his best season to date and garnering MVP consideration behind Curry, bested Warriors forward Draymond Green at the last second after falling behind him by more than 12,000 votes. Green even fell behind Dallas Mavericks big Zaza Pachulia, who finished 14,000 votes shy of the starting lineup and Leonard’s spot.
However, budding stars like Green and Drummond figure to make the final All-Star rosters when coaches make their selections.
In the West, Green and Warriors teammate Klay Thompson are likely additions, as are Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, Clippers forward Blake Griffin and point guard Chris Paul, as well as Rockets guard James Harden, while Kings point guard Rajon Rondo and Trail Blazers floor general Damian Lillard have good shots of making the team.
The East is also loaded and someone deserving will likely have to stay home during the All-Star break. Heat forward Chris Bosh will likely garner a spot, as will Hawks forwards Paul Millsap and Al Horford, Wizards guard John Wall, and Bulls guard Jimmy Butler.
Coaches are required to pick two guards, three forwards, and two wild cards to round out the final rosters.
Below are the full starting rosters for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, including each player’s final vote total. The All-Star Game tips off on Sunday, Feb. 14 in Toronto.
Western Conference Starters
G Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (1,604,325)
G Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (772,009)
F Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (1,891,614)
F Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (980,787)
F Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (782,339)
Eastern Conference Starters
G Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors (646,441)
G Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (941,466)
F LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (1,089,206)
F Paul George, Indiana Pacers (711,595)
F Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks (567,348)