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NBA stars pay tribute to retiring Kobe Bryant

ALL STARS: Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant (right)

NBA LEGEND Kobe Bryant will represent the Western Conference All-Stars at Sunday’s NBA All-Star game in Toronto (February 14). Bryant, who received more votes than any other player to be selected for Sunday’s game, is an 18-time NBA All-Star and will retire at the end of the season.

As part of a Cisco TelePresence call with international media fellow NBA All-Stars Kevin Durant and Draymond Green paid tribute to the 6ft 6in, 37-year-old.

Former NBA MVP Kevin Durant said: “His legacy is unbelievable, 20 years in the league, you can’t beat that, that’s what every player dreams of doing. For 20 years of being an elite basketball player. A lot of people should celebrate him for that. He’s a role model for young players.

Everybody knows who Kobe Bryant is, he’s a global icon in the basketball world and culture in general. He’s helped me so much throughout my career and definitely someone I’ll lean on as I continue to grow.”

While Kobe Bryant is playing in his last NBA All-Star game, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is delighted to be playing in his first. He said: “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s a dream come true. I’ve watched All-Star weekend my entire life. To be a part of it, to be one of the guys, it’s special. I don’t take it for granted, it’s a blessing and I’m thankful for it. The mood around the players is great. There is a lot of respect for a lot of the guys and I’m thankful to be part of it.”

He added he was pleased to be a part of Kobe’s final All-Star game. “I’m a big Kobe fan. To be a part of his last All-Star game is special. This is history in the making. We may never see a player like Kobe again, he’s that special.”

This year’s NBA All-Star is the first one outside the United States. Kevin Durant said he would welcome an All-Star outside of an NBA city. He said: “It would be fun. Of course travel would be difficult. That would be cool to see, hopefully that happens while I’m still in the NBA.”

Miami Heat All-Star Chris Bosh reserved special praise for European ace Dirk Nowitzki, who missed out on an NBA All-Star selection this year. He said: “Any time you have a guy like that who has that much talent. He just knows how to play the game, he’ll always be able to play at a high level as long as he’s playing. He’ll always have potential to play this game. I’m sure he’ll probably say he likes getting the rest.

"That’s just how great he is as a player that he’s always been able to be here and his name is synonymous with this weekend. He’s one of the greatest players to play the game.”

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