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Team Kobe vs. Team Dwight: 2011 All-Star Game draft

March 14, 2021, 3:59 PM ● Chuck Araneta, Miguel Flores

What if there was a draft for the 2011 All-Star Game? Who would have Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard selected?

The year was 2011. People were listening to "Party Rock Anthem" and were doing linguistic gymnastics to fit their joke into one 140-character tweet.

It was also an incredible time for the NBA with a lot of young stars taking the stage and improving TV ratings after a stellar Finals. The 2011 All-Star game was also a classic, with Kobe Bryant taking home the MVP in Los Angeles.

The only thing that would have made it better was if they already had a captain's draft for that particular All-Star game. The league just saw its first super team form in Miami, but it still had plenty of rivalries to make an All-Star draft compelling TV.

To set the scene, the top vote-getter in the West, Kobe Bryant, has multimedia presentations for each of his picks and is sitting in a dark room in the Lakers training facility. The East's most popular player, Dwight Howard, in his room, eating gummy bears with his snakes in the background.

The Inside the NBA theme plays and we're thrust into what should be a legendary show with Hall of Fame instigators Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith taking jabs and Ernie Johnson trying to maintain some level of professionalism.

We'll have our NBA.com Philippines writers imbibe the spirit of each captain to simulate the draft. Miguel Flores will be picking for Team Kobe while Chuck Araneta drafts for Team Dwight.

STARTERS

Team Kobe 1st pick: LeBron James

Before we explain this pick, it's important to go over Kobe's mentality -- more specifically his Mamba Mentality -- at this point in time. The Lakers had just won back-to-back titles and, while this Kobe still had the incredible drive and will to win everything, he could already have mellowed out just a little bit at this point.

With that said, there's two Mamba Mentality ways he could have realistically approached this draft with. He could draft guys who he thought best complemented his game, but at the same time still giving him the best chance at winning MVP in Los Angeles. Or, he could draft the possible team to help him win at all costs.

So with this first pick, Kobe's taking LeBron James who just took his talents to South Beach. Up to this point in the season, James was averaging 25.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7.2 assists and about a million boos from every city he visited. The Decision and the early championship declaration were still fresh in people's minds. Teaming with Kobe offers LeBron and Nike an incredible marketing opportunity that could have recouped his image at best, helped sell more shoes at worst.

We never got a Kobe-LeBron Finals showdown. At least having an All-Star team up could at least show us how the two would have played.

Team Dwight 1st pick: Derrick Rose

Dwight Howard, known as a fun-loving basketball powerhouse, had no such Mamba Mentality concerns to worry about. He probably wanted to pick the team that he would have the most fun with, and would let him goof around on the court. With LeBron being the first pick of team Kobe, Derrick Rose, the eventual MVP winner for the season, would be the logical choice. He would have faded further and further into the background while Howard would go breakdancing during the All-Star game introductions. Dwight would have no concern with Derrick stealing his thunder.

Team Kobe 2nd pick: Kevin Durant

The year 2011 was such a great time for Oklahoma City Thunder fans. Kevin Durant was one of their two All-Stars this season. They also had a high-flying Serge Ibaka and a cool dude with a cooler beard coming off the bench in James Harden.

As we know now, KD was very much a Kobe disciple. At this point, he was already one of the most lethal scorers in the league, averaging a league-best 28.2 points and eventually winning the scoring crown. But KD's not getting a lot of shots up in this game. He'll have his moments, but this is Kobe in LA.

Team Dwight 2nd pick: Dwyane Wade

Howard would troll Team Kobe and not allow Bron and Wade to team up together. Rose and Wade would form a thrilling backcourt, giving Team Howards hoops and dunks for days. Wade was at the peak of his powers in 2011, and would also love lobbing it up for Howard.

Team Kobe 3rd pick: Chris Paul

LeBron's a great passer, but team Kobe's going to need a bit more altruistic playmaking to make Team Mamba Mentality work.

Enter the Point God Chris Paul. At the height of his powers in 2011, Paul was the best point guard in the league and nearly single-handedly made New Orleans a playoff contender.

There probably isn't another guy on this list who both imbibes Mamba Mentality and is liked by Kobe. CP3 is an easy choice here.

Team Dwight 3rd pick: Carmelo Anthony

Team Howard’s backcourt is rock solid, but another scorer that can get buckets at the forward position would be a great pick here. Carmelo Anthony was still a member of the Denver Nuggets here, a franchise player of the highest order and one of the league’s professional bucket-getters. He would have been able to stand toe to toe with a young Kevin Durant.

Team Kobe 4th pick: Amar'e Stoudemire

Kobe definitely respected Tim Duncan, but he hated the Spurs. This was 2011 with the Spurs still churning out playoff teams, despite most pundits considering them old.

There's no way Kobe's picking Duncan here with San Antonio still being contenders. Bryant's picking Stoudemire here and the TNT crew would probably give him a rough time, but why not pick Amar'e? This was the dude that was reviving the New York Knicks and getting MVP consideration for it.

The year 2011 was the last year STAT was healthy so it's nice to think about the dude that outplayed guys like Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki in his prime. This is definitely a sentimental pick.

Team Dwight 4th pick: Tim Duncan

Replacing Yao Ming in the starting lineup as selected by Western Conference head coach Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan rounds out Team Dwight. Duncan would be the perfect pick for Dwight as TD would be happy to do the dirty work like grab all the rebounds and blocks, letting the young guys fly up and down the floor. 

RESERVES

Team Dwight 1st reserve: Blake Griffin

Team Dwight gets even more exciting with its first pick for the reserves. Blake Griffin is part of a rare group of rookies immediately selected to the All-Star game in their rookie season. And the best part is that he could potentially dunk all over the next pick of Team Kobe….

Team Kobe 1st reserve: Pau Gasol

This is a no-brainer.  Pau was Dom Toretto to Kobe's Brian O'Conner. The Sundance Kid to Kobe's Butch Cassidy. The Shawn Michaels to Kobe's Triple H. The Pip to Kobe's Guy.

Kobe and Pau were, to most Lakers fans, their best example of platonic male love. Kobe would have been so happy to pick Pau here that it would have been a nice chapter to their great friendship.

Team Dwight 2nd reserve: Russell Westbrook

The jams and emphatic slams get ramped up even further as Russell Westbrook joins Team Dwight. Westbrook, already known as one of the most aggressive penetrators and slashers, would be given a golden opportunity to grab the All-Star MVP as he knows only one way to play: all out. Seeing Westbrook together with Rose and Wade on the floor? Chills. 

Team Kobe 2nd reserve: Dirk Nowitzki

Unbeknownst to Kobe, Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks would eventually sweep them in the playoffs. But before that sours the pot, Kobe would definitely take Dirk here.

Team Dwight 3rd reserve: Manu Ginobili

Team Dwight continues to load up in the backcourt by getting one of the most fun players in NBA history. Manu Ginobili might be a bit advanced in age in 2011, but he was still one of the most electrifying players to watch in the league, despite playing for the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Popovich would probably only give both Manu and Tim 10 minutes in the game to preserve them for a playoff run though.

Team Kobe 3rd reserve: Deron Williams

It's hard to remember now, but Williams was considered the second best point guard in the league at this point. There are some that even argued he was better because of his scoring. After picking bigs back-to-back, Team Kobe is in dire need of another guard off the bench and the soon-to-be traded Williams fits the bill.

Team Dwight 4th reserve: Kevin Love

Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love was special. He was a rebounding and 3-point shooting machine that was ahead of his time. This kind of game would be the perfect showcase for Love’s unique skill set, where he could bomb away from beyond the arc. 

Team Kobe 4th reserve: Joe Johnson

This is where it gets tricky for Team Kobe. Wings are coming off the board, but most importantly, there are still four Boston Celtics on the board. The Lakers and Celtics had just come off a classic seven-game Finals series and, though Los Angeles won, there's no way Kobe willingly picks a Celtic. The rivalry was still too fresh, the trash talk still too personal.

That's why we're going with the legend that is Iso Joe. Johnson was still in his peek and is leading a very fun revolution in Atlanta.

The Inside the NBA guys start giving Kobe a hard time for passing on a Celtic. Kobe gives them a death stare.

Team Dwight 5th reserve: Kevin Garnett

KG could vie for All-Star MVP if he doesn’t forget to bring the Gem delivered to him by Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems. He’d also get an All-Star technical foul for barking at Dwight Howard for laughing too much.

Team Kobe 5th reserve: Chris Bosh

The last member of Miami's Big 3 on the board, Bosh was just scratching the surface of the eventual "stretch five" revolution he would help take off.

But that's not what Kobe picks him. Sure, Rondo, Pierce, or Allen would have better fit the team. But Kobe's NOT PICKING A CELTIC. 

Team Dwight 6th reserve: Rajon Rondo

Another guy that will throw it up for Dwight and Blake Griffin. Lob City in the All-Star Game!

Team Kobe 6th reserve: Al Horford

Young Al Horford was a beast. He was already switching onto guards in Atlanta's pick-and-roll defense before it was fashionable. Team Kobe now has four bigs coming off the bench. But that's better than having a Celtic on the team.

Team Dwight 7th reserve: Paul Pierce

This pick is purely to keep The Truth and The Mamba from being on the same team and potentially a fight breaking out between teammates in the locker room at halftime. Pierce would probably finish the game to try and get the Elam Ending last shot before Kobe does. The Laker-Celtics rivalry will never die!

Team Kobe 7th reserve: Ray Allen

Among Boston's stars, Ray Allen would have been the guy Kobe was most likely to pick. After all, Jesus Shuttlesworth didn't talk a lot of trash. Kobe probably had more anger for Sasha Vujacic.

For picking Pierce ahead of Allen, Dwight probably would have drawn less of Kobe's ire when he gets traded to the Lakers in 2013. Two hypothetical wins in one pick!

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