Be it ever so humble . . . it's Kobe Bryant!

Nothing meaningful happened to the Lakers last week, unless you count its possibly marking the moment Kobe Bryant found humility.

The standoffish superstar who likes to scoff at 3-0 series deficits, his team's sub-.500 record and the folly of a payroll-gobbling contract in what could be his final two NBA seasons finally discovered something that made him quiver:

Being an All-Star when he doesn't deserve it.

Bryant has played only six games this season because of a torn Achilles' tendon and a broken knee. He's averaging a very average 13.8 points and 6.3 assists. Even he realizes that isn't enough to warrant playing in the NBA's midseason showcase Feb. 16 in New Orleans.

"With all due respect to the fans who voted me in, and I certainly appreciate that," Bryant told reporters after being selected a Western Conference All-Star starter with 988,884 fan votes, "but you've got to do the right thing as well. My feeling is you've got to reward these young guys for the work that they've been putting in."

Bryant was explicitly alluding to Portland's Damian Lillard, whom he has name-dropped twice, and may have been implicitly referring to James Harden, who has surpassed Bryant in the estimation of most league general managers and all but die-hard Lakers fans.

Bryant indicated he would fulfill league expectations by making at least a token appearance. He could return from his knee injury sometime early next month, giving him a handful of games to prep for what would be his 16th All-Star appearance.

It might very well be the first in which he has taken stock of something besides himself.

Forward thinking?

Bryant won't be the only All-Star staple not to play meaningful minutes next month.

The exclusion of Houston's Dwight Howard as a starter in fan voting for the first time since 2007 leaves the All-Star game without a traditional center among the starters for the first time.

Fans voted for three forwards on both the East and West teams as part of the two-year-old arrangement that allows them to select a trio of frontcourt players instead of two forwards and a center.

"I'm going to have another campaign for saving the centers because the world needs us," Howard told reporters, alluding to a video he made last year that parodied a commercial to help abused animals.

Howard, Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins and Indiana's Roy Hibbert, the consensus top center in the East, have been left to hope they are selected as All-Star reserves.

Come on, Pelicans!

Pierre the Pelican is seeing an image consultant, with his new look to be unveiled during All-Star weekend at New Orleans Arena.

The New Orleans mascot, who has been derided as looking like almost everything except a Pelican, will reappear with a redesigned head.

"Any good ornithologist will tell you that a young Pelican is constantly evolving," a team source told the Times-Picayune, referring to a zoologist who studies birds.

Of course, evolution also holds that inferior beings face extinction.

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