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John Wall says Russell Westbrook is most like Kobe Bryant in today's game in one way

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John Wall says Russell Westbrook is most like Kobe Bryant in today's game in one way

The most common answers from Wizards players and coaches this week when asked to recall Kobe Bryant's career in light of his double jersey retirement dealt with two things: wonderment over Bryant having two jersey numbers raised to the rafters and admiration of his effort and attitude on the court.

Head coach Scott Brooks played and coached against Bryant. The one game he opposed him on the court was in 1998 when Brooks was on the Cavs and Bryant was a 19-year-old bench player for the Lakers.

"Playing against him, I didn't think he was going to be a very good player," Brooks joked. "You knew he had special talent. He had the physical characteristics and the desire to be great. His competitives is unmatched."

As a coach, Brooks was amazed when trying to develop defensive strategies to stop Bryant. Through experience and studying film, Bryant had seen everything before.

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Brooks coached against Bryant when he was No. 24 and by then he was the most astute player in the game.

"To be able to do what he did, for 20 years and it was almost identical from No. 8 to No. 24 is just incredible to me," Brooks said. "Somebody said he could be a Hall of Famer in each one, which is pretty cool."

Indeed, the statistical split between jersey No. 8 and No. 24 is almost dead-on. He played 10 seasons with each number. In No. 8, he won three titles and scored 16,866 points. In No. 24, he won two championships and scored 16,777 points.

Wizards star John Wall has done plenty to separate his No. 2 jersey from others in Wizards/Bullets franchise history as a four-time All-Star with several team records. But he can't imagine being able to recreate what Bryant did in his two uniforms.

"Once in a lifetime," Wall said.

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Would Wall be interested in giving it a shot, changing his number to emulate Bryant and go for a double jersey retirement someday?

"That's if I can win two championships. I have to try to win one in this one first, then try the other one," he said.

Wall played against Bryant more times than Brooks and what stands out to him most is how fierce a competitor he was. Bryant was cordial off the court, before and after games. But once the ball tipped, he was ruthless.

"Every time he stepped on the court, he was dominant every day. He didn't care who it was against, whether it was practice or a game, or shootaround or 1-on-1. He just had that killer mindset. I haven't seen anybody with that type of killer instinct," Wall said.

No one compares to Bryant in that category, but there is one guy who stands out as the closest in today's game.

"The person that plays that type of dog I probably would say Russell [Westbrook]. He just goes all out. He doesn't care, it doesn't matter. No friends, no nothing. That's the closest guy I would say to having that Kobe mentality," Wall said.

Wall can be included in that mix of contemporary players who have the old school mindset of their opponents as enemies. But, as he said himself, no one quite compares to Kobe.

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NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reveals his 2018 NBA All-Star ballot

NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reveals his 2018 NBA All-Star ballot

The 2018 NBA All-Star starters have been announced with few surprises based on the previous updates we saw from fan voting, which account for 50 percent of the equation. The other 50 percent is split by players and media.

I had the honor of filling out one of the media ballots before the Jan. 15 deadline and in interest of transparency, here is how I voted with some brief reasoning for why:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

G Kyrie Irving, Celtics

Irving is the best player on the top team in the conference. He is scoring like he always has, but is now expanding his game under coach Brad Stevens.

G Bradley Beal, Wizards

Beal has turned into one of the best scorers in the NBA and now does so many more things. It wasn't an easy pick between him, DeMar DeRozan, John Wall and Victor Oladipo, but Beal has been so valuable to the Wizards this season with Wall missing extended time that he got the nod.

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F LeBron James, Cavs

LeBron remains the best player in basketball and is having one of his best seasons at the age of 33. It's incredible to watch and he is deserving of the most votes.

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Giannis is a bonafide star and is among the most versatile players in the NBA with how he can affect the game on both ends of the floor. Even without a three-point shot, he's completely unstoppable on offense.

F Joel Embiid, Sixers

Embiid is proving he can stay on the court (for the most part) and is putting up crazy numbers. Kristaps Porzingis and others got consideration for this spot, but Embiid edged them out with his rebounding.

RELATED: BROOKS FEELS GOOD ABOUT WALL AND BEAL'S ALL-STAR CHANCES

WESTERN CONFERENCE

G Russell Westbrook, Thunder

His scoring is down from last season, but Westbrook tops the NBA in assists per game and things are starting to click in Oklahoma City with him leading the way.

G James Harden, Rockets

The NBA's leading scorer, Harden is still putting up insane numbers despite co-existing with another star guard in Chris Paul. And the Rockets are really, really good.

F Kevin Durant, Warriors

The best player on the league's best team, Durant is currently fifth in points per game and tied for third in blocks. He is incredibly efficient and does so many things well.

F Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Davis continues to put up impressive numbers, but he's now more efficent than ever. The Pelicans are currently sixth in the West, too.

F Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Towns has become almost underrated with all the attention placed on other young stars in the league, but he's as good as any of them. Big KAT has the T'Wolves on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, Steph Curry named captains; Wall and Beal miss cut for starters

2018 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, Steph Curry named captains; Wall and Beal miss cut for starters

The NBA announced the starters for next month's 2018 All-Star Game and once again LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was the top vote-getter.

Stephen Curry of the Warriors was second in votes, meaning he and James will serve as captains and pick teams for the Feb. 18 showcase.

Neither John Wall or Bradley Beal of the Wizards made the cut as starters, so they will have to hope to make it as reserves by NBA coaches. The full rosters are announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

For the starters, fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote with players and media each representing 25 percent. 

PODCAST: WHAT CHANGES SHOULD THE WIZARDS MAKE?

Here are the starters from each conference. Keep in mind these groups will be split up once the captains pick their teams:

EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS

G Kyrie Irving, Celtics -- 2,170,833 fan votes (5th All-Star appearance)

G DeMar DeRozan, Raptors -- 998,999 fan votes (4th)

F LeBron James, Cavs -- 2,638,294 fan votes (14th)

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks -- 2,530,211 fan votes (2nd)

F Joel Embiid, Sixers -- 1,285,587 fan votes (1st)

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WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS

G Stephen Curry, Warriors -- 2,379,494 fan votes (5th All-Star appearance)

G James Harden, Rockets -- 1,486,830 fan votes (6th)

F Kevin Durant, Warriors -- 2,238,406 fan votes (9th)

F Anthony Davis, Pelicans -- 1,088,230 fan votes (4th)

F DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans -- 922,269 fan votes (4th)

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