Posted February 14, 2014

Report: Rockets’ James Harden to replace Lakers’ Kobe Bryant as All-Star starter

2014 All-Star Weekend, Ben Golliver, James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Scott Brooks
James Harden

James Harden will start in his first All-Star Game this weekend. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Rockets guard James Harden will reportedly replace Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the Western Conference’s starting lineup during Sunday’s All-Star Game in New Orleans.

Yahoo Sports reports that Thunder coach Scott Brooks has selected Harden, his former player, to stand in Bryant, who is sidelined with a knee injury. He will join a Western Conference starting lineup that also includes Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Timberwolves forward Kevin Love and Clippers forward Blake Griffin.

Bryant, 35, was voted in as a Western Conference started by the fans despite playing just six games this season as he recovered from an Achilles injury and then subsequently injured his right knee. Bryant didn’t make his season debut until Dec. 8 because of an Achilles injury, and he suffered a knee injury that has sidelined him since Dec. 17. Bryant will be reevaluated after the All-Star break and there’s no clear timetable for his return.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver named Pelicans forward Anthony Davis as Bryant’s injury replacement on the West’s roster, but the duty of selecting the starting lineup replacement falls to the Western Conference’s coach.

Harden, 24, was selected by the coaches as a reserve. He is making his second All-Star Game appearance and this would be his first appearance as a starter. Harden is averaging 23.9 points, 5.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in his fifth NBA season.

Bryant finished second among Western Conference backcourt players in the fan vote, tallying roughly 988,000 votes. Harden placed fifth with roughly 470,000 votes, trailing, in order: Curry, Bryant, Clippers guard Chris Paul and Rockets teammate Jeremy Lin.

The decision is hardly surprising. Harden is the only true two guard on the West’s roster and there were no current Thunder players among the West’s reserves, leaving Brooks unable to promote one of his own players. Brooks’ options, aside from Harden, included only point guards (Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Spurs guard Tony Parker and Paul) and frontcourt players (Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Davis, Rockets center Dwight Howard and Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki).

Harden spent his first three NBA seasons with the Thunder, who selected him with the No. 3 pick in the 2009 draft, and he was a member of the Oklahoma City team that advanced to the 2012 Finals. The Thunder then traded Harden to the Rockets in a blockbuster deal before the 2012-13 season after contract extension talks hit a wall.

10 comments
K.r.Qunynghamm
K.r.Qunynghamm

The NBA was, at one time a respectable league. Many of you never saw Wilt, Bill Russell, Nate Thurman, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West or Pete Maravich play. Those players played for a lot less money, endured some rough travel arrangements, spent many a night in a hotel beds with their feet hanging off the ends or sides and lousy meals at times. Give me the days when guys could actually shoot and make 5 shots in a row, make free throws, layups and knew what defense was. Days when 'taking a charge' was unheard of along with flopping. 

ChiefG
ChiefG

Just because his name is Kobe Bryant automatically puts him in the All Star game.

Plenty of players who actually do play who deserve to be in All Star game.

Mark112
Mark112

One ballhog replacing another. What's the big deal? Who will even notice?

PackersFanNumeroUno
PackersFanNumeroUno

Nowadays that is, back in the day it was great. Back when you had guys the likes of Larry Legend & Jack Sikma

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@malgus Or maybe it is because he scores lots of points.  You know, the object of the game.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@malgus No it does not.  You are starting to get the hang of it.