(Reuters) - Kobe Bryant may be struggling through the final season of his illustrious career but the Los Angeles Lakers great was still the top choice to be a starter at next month’s All-Star Game, the NBA said on Thursday.
Bryant led all players with almost 1.89 million fan votes, nearly 300,000 more than second-placed Stephen Curry, earning him the right to be one of the five Western Conference starters for the league’s annual exhibition.
The 18th All-Star berth puts Bryant, a four-time All-Star Game MVP and top scorer in the contest’s history, one behind Hall of Famer and fellow Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most all time.
The 37-year-old Bryant, in his 20th season and arguably the best player of his generation, announced last November that he would retire after the 2015-16 NBA season.
The other Western Conference starters were Curry of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Eastern Conference starters are LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.
The All-Star Game is in Toronto on Feb. 14.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by John O'Brien