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Kobe Bryant suggests fans vote younger players into All-Star game

Professional BasketballKobe BryantSportsBasketballLos Angeles LakersPau GasolKendall Marshall

Kobe Bryant isn't sure he should be selected to play in the 2013-14 All-Star game.

"I probably won't be able to come back soon enough to be able to make my stamp or my mark on the game," Bryant said before the Lakers played the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. "My advice would be to vote for some of the younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they're more than deserving to be out there and play during that weekend."

By last count, the NBA had Bryant as the leading vote-getter to start for the Western Conference squad, with 723,031.

Bryant has played in only six games this season. He returned in December after missing eight months following Achilles' tendon surgery, only to suffer a broken bone in his left knee.

"You want to feel like you deserve to be in the game and play," Bryant said. "Then there's the other side of the argument where you've put in a lot of work over the years. Fans, if they vote you in, you want to go out there and show your appreciation and respect to them.

"From where I come from, I really enjoy watching what the young guys are doing and how they're performing. Even though there's so much respect that comes from me to play for the fans, I'd much rather see the young guys go on out there and play in the game."

Bryant is about halfway through an estimated six-week recovery from the knee injury he suffered Dec. 19.

"I'm pretty restricted in terms of what I can do, just staying on the [stationary] bike," he said.  "I'm focusing on staying in shape."

The additional time off isn't necessarily a bad thing in terms of helping his Achilles' tendon to fully recover.

"It helps. You get a chance to get the Achilles' even stronger and rest even more where it's not a concern whatsoever," said Bryant.

He also isn't worried about a difficult return from the knee injury.

"The bones will heal and it will be just like brand new," he said.

Bryant also said he's always supported keeping Pau Gasol, whose name once again has bounced around the trade-rumor mill.

"How much more am I supposed to support a guy, besides making a Pau flag and riding in here with a horse with Spanish-colored paint on my face like I'm a Spaniard William Wallace or something? I don't know what else to do," Bryant said.

Bryant spoke highly of point guard Kendall Marshall, who had a big game for the Lakers on Friday.

"What I like about Kendall is that he has really good size to him, good length," said Bryant.  "He's got a funny looking shot, but it goes in.

"I've always been a fan of big guards," the 6-foot-6 Bryant added.

ALSO:

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Conflicting 'reports' on status of Pau Gasol trade to Cavaliers

Lakers might have a gem with Kendall Marshall on a two-year contract

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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