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Kobe Bryant deserves to be All-Star, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says

Lakers forward Kobe Bryant drives toward the basket against Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins during the first quarter of Wednesday's game in Minneapolis.

Lakers forward Kobe Bryant drives toward the basket against Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins during the first quarter of Wednesday’s game in Minneapolis.

(Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

On Thursday, the NBA opened up balloting for the 2016 All-Star game, scheduled for Feb. 14 in Toronto.

For the first time in his career, Kobe Bryant is listed as a frontcourt player instead of a guard, in accordance with the 17-time All-Star’s move to small forward this season.

Will the fans vote him in for an 18th appearance?

FULL COVERAGE: Kobe Bryant’s final season with the Lakers >>

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“I hope to see him there,” said Commissioner Adam Silver on Sirius XM NBA Radio on Thursday. “I think he deserves to be there.”

Bryant has struggled through 19 games this season, averaging 15.9 points a game while shooting just 30.9% from the field and 22.3% from three-point range.

The Lakers are just 3-19 on the season, owning the second-worst record ahead of the 1-22 Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers’ lone victory this year is over the Lakers.

“He’s going to retire as one of the NBA’s greatest players,” said Silver of Bryant, who recently announced he’ll retire in April. “We’ll see what the fans and the coaches decide, and then we’ll go from there.”

Fans can vote for up to 10 players a day via NBA.com and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Voting will conclude Jan. 18 at 9 p.m. PST, with fans selecting the five starters for each conference. NBA coaches will choose seven reserves for each All-Star squad.

Despite the Lakers’ struggles this season, the team remains a big draw both at home and on the road, as Bryant makes his way through his farewell tour.

The NBA also announced Thursday that Bryant’s final visit to Boston as a player will be added to the NBA TV lineup on Dec. 30.

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The Lakers’ battle against their historic rival will be shown instead of the meeting between the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors previously scheduled.

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

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