Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers earned his record-setting 18th consecutive selection to the NBA All-Star Game, when the league announced that Bryant had finished as the top vote-getter on Thursday. Only former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been to more All-Star games, 19.
Bryant received 1,891,614 votes in total, and the 37-year-old will start as a forward in the exhibition game for the first time. Previously, Bryant has always featured as a guard. Bryant, obviously, has history in the All-Star game, as he has won the All-Star MVP four times, which is tied for the record alongside Bob Petit. Bryant also holds the All-Star Game records for most points scored (280), most field goals made (115) and most steals (37)—though Bryant is tied with Michael Jordan in the steals category.
In terms of voting, Bryant led the competition by a comfortable margin, as fans voted for the 20-year professional to get one last taste of the NBA's midseason celebration. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors finished with 1,604,325 votes to come in second, but Bryant beat out the league's reigning MVP by nearly 300,000 votes.
Aside from Curry and Bryant, only LeBron James even managed over 1,000,000 votes, as the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar finished with 1,089,206 votes to lead the Eastern Conference. Starting for the Eastern Conference, James will be joined by former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade (941,466), Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (646,441), Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (711,595) and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (567,348).
Along with Curry and Bryant, the Western Conference starters will feature Kevin Durant (980,787), Kawhi Leonard (782,339) and Russell Westbrook (722,009).
Considering neither team features a true center, the NBA's recent trend of "small-ball" should be in full effect when the 2016 NBA All-Star Game tips-off in Toronto on Feb. 14, 2016. In his final season, Bryant's selection as a starter for the 16th time also sets an NBA All-Star record.