It's OK that Kobe Bryant didn't even come close to winning the All-Star Game MVP, the way that some of his die-hard fans were hoping his send-off from his 18th and final All-Star Game would unfold on Sunday night.
Despite only scoring 10 points in 26 minutes of the West's 196-173 victory, the five-time NBA champion walked away from his final All-Star Game experience, having nothing but a good time with the kind of fun that fans haven't seen him enjoy in quite some time.
From warming up with Chris Paul's toddler son before the game to being pranked by LeBron James and saluted by Michael Jordan...th e All-Star Game was the perfect way to cap a tribute to one of the game's greatest players ever.
When Bryant came off the court with 1:06 remaining, all of his fellow All-Star peers, including back-to-back All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook, and the capacity Toronto crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Before the game even tipped off Sunday night, Magic Johnson announced Bryant, who gave a short speech about enjoying the All-Star Games and hoping that some of his peers standing behind him would go on to have a 20-year career like he has enjoyed.
Although Bryant only had 10 points, he did show flashes of his vintage game, including his fade-away. Not that Carmelo Anthony - or anyone for that matter - was playing any defense.
But still...Kobe turned back the hands of time with this one.
Later, he would even try a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-inspired sky hook as a tribute to the Hall of Famer and fellow Los Angeles Lakers great.
His last All-Star Game also included a sequence in which James took on the assignment to guard him. Bryant tried to get King James to bite on a pump fake, but it didn't work as LeBron stayed glued to the hardwood and the Black Mamba missed the jumper.
Still, to have the NBA superstars together on this play was pretty electric.
James and his former teammate Dwyane Wade even had some fun interrupting Bryant's halftime interview, much to the laughter of the five-time champ.
In fact, the distraction helped Kobe convey the point that he'll miss the camaraderie of the game from his peers the most, as he also was seen exchanging some laughs with Oklahoma City Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Westbrook on the West's bench.
And they'll miss you, Kobe. As we all will.
With just under four minutes left in the game, MJ even gave Kobe the nod of respect - something that has to go a long way with the Black Mamba, considering his unabashed love and admiration for Jordan.
Let that final All-Star Game standing ovation soak in.
Salute to one of the greatest to ever do it - Kobe Bryant.
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(Photo: Todd Korol/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
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