Despite playing just two games to date, the fans still believe in Kobe Bryant. Well, either that or they just don't know who to vote for.
The NBA's annual popularity contest has had its voting underway for weeks now, making Bryant's tally an even stronger indication of his indomitable reputation amongst the league's fan base. Kobe has notched 501,125 votes according to the first official count, only following Kevin Durant's Western Conference-leading 607,407 votes. Amazingly, Bean has over 100,000 votes over the next potential All-Star Chris Paul, who has just over 393,000. LeBron James leads all players with 609,336 votes.
If the voting holds--and there's no reason to suspect that it won't--the 2014 ASG will be Bryant's 16th, which will break his tie with Kevin Garnett for second-most in NBA history. There will no doubt be some controversy over the Mamba's probable All-Star berth this year, as he'll have played in no more than 35 games leading up to the February 16th tip-off in NOLA and even less during the eligible voting period. Such a nomination isn't unprecedented even in recent NBA history, as Yao Ming was voted a starter despite playing just five games all season.
Other Lakers in the top 10 include Pau Gasol (7th in the front court at 133,199) and Steve Nash (9th in the back court at 60,782). Oddly enough, Pau sits in front of perhaps more deserving players like LaMarcus Aldridge (8th) and Dirk Nowitzki (10th), while Nash is 4,000 votes ahead of Damian Lillard.
The balloting window closes on January 20th, with the results of the starting five being released on January 23rd.