In Bryant's second season, he received more playing time and began to show more of his abilities as a talented young guard. As a result, Bryant's point averages more than doubled, from 7.6 to 15.4 points per game. Bryant would see an increase in minutes when the Lakers "played small", which would feature Bryant playing small forward alongside the guards he would usually back up. Bryant was the runner-up for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, and through fan voting, he also became the youngest NBA All-Star starter in NBA history. He was joined by teammates O'Neal, Van Exel, and Jones, making it the first time since 1983 that four players on the same team were selected to play in the same All-Star Game. Bryant's 15.4 points per game were the highest of any non-starter in the season.
Mandela's relationship with Machel had intensified; in February 1998, he publicly stated that he was "in love with a remarkable lady", and under pressure from Tutu, who urged him to set an example for young people, he organised a wedding for his 80th birthday, in July that year.The following day, he held a grand party with many foreign dignitaries.