Kobe a no-show at All-Star media session
ORLANDO, Fla. – Kobe Bryant was a no-show during Friday's media session at All-Star weekend.
The Los Angeles Lakers star never took his seat behind the podium. Shortly before the session was to end, NBA spokesman Tim Frank informed reporters that Bryant was "ill" and wouldn't be attending.
There was no indication of whether the illness would prevent Bryant from appearing in the game — or other activities the remainder of the weekend.
Bryant and the Lakers are one of the teams that will be watched closely around the upcoming trade deadline. A disappointing start to the season has left them fifth in the Western Conference standings under first-year coach Mike Brown.
A throng of about three dozen reporters waited during the media session Friday to ask Bryant questions that almost certainly would have included trade speculation about teammate Pau Gasol and the possibility of Los Angeles landing Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
No one got a chance.
HELP ME, RONDO: Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has been no stranger to trade discussions and controversy this season.
Despite recently serving a two-game suspension for throwing a basketball at a referee, he earned his third straight All-Star selection, this time as a replacement for injured Atlanta guard Joe Johnson (knee).
Rondo, who will also take part in the Skills Challenge on Saturday, said he hasn't let his recent suspension or hearing his name in trade talks affect his approach to the rest of the season.
"Not at all," he said. "I believe everything happens for a reason. That's what I think."
He said he's dealing with distractions the way he always has in his five previous seasons.
"I just try to concentrate on keep getting better, regardless of where I'm at or what I'm playing for," he said. "I just want to continue to get better, so I have that mentality."
Rondo hit the All-Star break averaging a career-high 14.8 points per game. His assist average has slipped slightly, but is still at 9.5 per game — the third-best average in his six NBA seasons.
YOUNG AT HEART: The Miami Heat are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA right now, entering the All-Star break on an eight-game winning streak. They are tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the league.
Miami also is the most well-represented team in Orlando for All-Star festivities, with six players involved in at least one of the weekend's competitions.
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh will all play in the All-Star game Sunday. Heat rookie Norris Cole was selected for Friday's BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, and James Jones and Mario Chalmers are both competing in the 3-point shootout, with Jones defending his 2011 title.
Wade, James and Bosh — all in their ninth NBA season — are among the most decorated All-Star participants in town, with 23 selections between them. James and Wade are celebrating their eighth selections, with Bosh right behind at seven.
Only Kobe Bryant (14), Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Boston's Paul Pierce (10) have more selections.
Wade, the oldest of the Heat trio at 30 (James and Bosh are both 27), said they have talked about being among the "old guys" in the league now.
"You never would have thought it, but looking around the room, yeah," Wade said. "I never thought getting voted in as an All-Star my second year, and now to be one of the older guys here ... it's a testament to the hard work, but also to the fans of our game to make sure I'm here."
EMPATHY FOR A BIG MAN: Chris Bosh was both praised and vilified when he left the Toronto Raptors in the summer of 2010 to join Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Miami.
That's why Bosh has plenty of empathy for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, his close friend and U.S. Olympic teammate. Howard has been scrutinized all season following his preseason trade request.
"I do, but it's different. You can't do anything more," Bosh said. "I went through something like that. It's not to the magnitude that he's dealing with right now, but it's a tough situation to be in to be asked questions about something you don't know about.
"People push you for an answer that you can't answer. It's just something you can't do anything about. Time will tell. The only thing he can do is take everything one day at a time and just try to do his job as best as possible."
Though they are currently division rivals, Bosh said whatever happens with Howard, it won't affect their personal relationship at all.
"It'll be like the Olympics, like old times," Bosh said. "It's been four years already, but maybe we'll be warming up this summer. But he's a great teammate and a super-talented guy. ... So just being around him and seeing him on and off the court, it'll turn out great."
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki said Howard's situation is to be expected.
"It's just part of it," he said. "It's what the fans want to speculate about. Nobody really knows what's going to happen, but that's what the fans want to read. I'm not a part of it, but we'll see what happens."