Bryant's farewell tour makes biggest stop in All-Star Game

Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:36pm EST
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By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Kobe Bryant made the biggest stop of his farewell tour on Sunday as he played the last NBA All-Star Game of a remarkable career in which he established himself as arguably the best player of his generation.

Bryant, who said all week he did not want his fellow players to go easy on him in his final All-Star Game, was a shadow of the player who dominated the NBA's midseason showcase many times before, but was still the man of the hour.

Prior to the game's opening tip, NBA great Magic Johnson lauded the 37-year-old in between a pair of tribute videos featuring some career highlights interspersed with messages of thanks from a handful of fellow NBA players.

Bryant announced last November that this would be his final season and was made the leading vote-getter for his 18th and final All-Star appearance by fans.

"I just want to thank you guys for all of your support for all these years," Bryant told the Toronto crowd and a global television audience.

"I've been extremely fortunate to be able to play the game that I love and be in the NBA for more than half my life.

"It's a thrill to be here in this All-Star Game so thank you for voting me in. I get a chance to be around these young players here, who when I first started playing most of them were my kids' age now.

"It feels so good to be able to speak to them about the game and to be able to share some of the knowledge that I have learned throughout my career to them so that they can carry on the tradition of the NBA and hopefully play 20 years themselves."   Continued...

Feb 14, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Western Conference forward Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers (24) reacts in the second half during the NBA All Star Game at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports