NBA: Retiring Bryant tops early All-Star balloting

NEW YORK (AFP) - Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, retiring after this season to end a 20-year career, is the runaway vote leader for the 65th National Basketball Association All-Star Game, the league announced on Friday.

Bryant, a 17-time All-Star, has received 719,235 votes. Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is next at 510,202 and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers topping the Eastern Conference with 357,937 votes.

Global fan voting determines the starters for the annual contest of NBA elite stars, which this season is set for February 14 in Toronto.

Bryant, 37, is the leading scorer in NBA All-Star Game history with 280 points and he ranks second in All-Star appearances behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 19.

NBA scoring leader Curry averages 30.8 points a game for the defending NBA champion Warriors, who have the league's top record at 28-1. Joining him in the Western Conference backcourt based on current voting is 2015 NBA All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder with 267,699. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers a distant third with 146,335.

In voting for three spots in the West front-court starting lineup, Bryant sets the pace followed by Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant on 349,473 and the Clippers' Blake Griffin on 182,107. Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs is in fourth on 164,521.

Voting concludes on January 18 and the starting lineups will be announced January 21.