Bryant soaks up warm farewell from frigid outpost

Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:29pm EST
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - A frigid Sunday night in winter-locked Canada may be the perfect place for a hockey player to take a bow, but for Kobe Bryant the NBA's most northern outpost would seem an odd setting to wave farewell.

The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, the first ever held outside the United States, will not represent Bryant's last goodbye - that will come on April 13 back home in sunny Los Angeles in the Lakers' regular season finale against the Utah Jazz.

But the Toronto All-Star stage will certainly provide the 37-year-old basketball icon, who announced in December that this his 20th NBA season would be his last, the chance to give his legion of fans one last global hug.

The game will be available in 215 countries and territories with access in 49 languages on their televisions, computers, mobile phones and tablets.

Reporters from across North America along with 336 international media outlets from 40 countries have made the trip to Toronto while 17 international television and radio networks including China, Japan and France will carry Sunday's showcase live.

And most of the attention will be focused on Bryant's All-Star farewell.

"It should be more of a celebration about what he's given to the game and all his accomplishments," said Chicago Bulls Spanish center Pau Gasol, a team mate of Bryant's for seven seasons in Los Angeles.

"That's why I wanted to be a part of it. It's going to be emotional for me to see him. I hope he enjoys it.   Continued...

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) reacts during the second half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports