On Sunday night, Kobe Bryant will lace them up for a final time against the best and brightest the NBA has to offer. Bryant will be a starter for the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game with plenty of his peers looking forward to seeing the five-time NBA champion in the annual event.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star, Pau Gasol, is glad he’ll be able to see Bryant’s last All-Star appearance. Gasol admitted it will be an emotional experience via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
Pau Gasol on playing in Kobe's last All-Star game: "I wanted to be a part of it. It will be emotional for me to see him."
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 12, 2016
Earlier this week, Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler suffered a knee injury that will keep him out of the All-Star Game on Sunday. With Butler unable to participate, the league had to choose Gasol, Butler’s teammate in Chicago, as his replacement.
After Sunday’s game in Toronto, Gasol and Bryant will meet on the basketball floor one more time later this month. The Lakers will face the San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center in the first game after the All-Star break and then will go on a three-game road trip.
The first game of the road trip will be against the Bulls at the United Center on Feb. 21. Much like Kobe’s final All-Star Game, the last meeting between Bryant and Gasol is bound to be an emotional one with both stars still as close as ever.