Fast Break Thoughts: All-Star Weekend Edition

Darius Soriano —  February 12, 2010

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Ahh, the spirit of love is in the air.  I’m settling in, thinking of what special meal I’m going to prepare and what lavish gifts I can expect from the one that I love.  Oh, you thought I was talking about Valentine’s Day?  No, it’s All-Star weekend!  Some random musings on my favorite sports weekend that is now upon us.

*The action starts tonight with the Rookie/Sophmore game and the quest to determine what team can play the least amount of defense ever seen in an organized basketball game.  When I take a look at the rosters of both teams, lets just say I see a decided advantage for one of the teams and think that the Sophmores will build on its seven game win streak in this showcase of young talent.  That’s not to say that there won’t be some interesting matchups.  I love the guard matchups that we’ll see when the combo of Westbrook/Mayo face off against Curry/Evans.  I’m also anxious to see the battle of the boards between Dejuan Blair and Kevin Love.  But in the end, I think that the frontline of Beasley/Love/Lopez/Gasol will dominate the inside against the rookie group of Casspi/Taj Gibson/Jerebko/Blair and that even an explosion from Brandon Jennings (and his throwback hairdo) won’t be enough to take down the more seasoned sophs. 

*Another “event” to watch this evening will be the dunk off between the Clips’ Eric Gordon and the Raptor’s DeMar DeRozan as they face off to determine who will compete in Saturday Night’s big boy contest.  In this one, my money is on DeRozan as he’s clearly the better athlete and would seemingly have more to offer the fans who vote on the winner.  That said, don’t count out Gordon who, despite his stout frame, does have hops.

*But, tommorrow is where the real action begins.  Highlighted by the 3 point shoot out and the (aforementioned) Dunk Contest this is the night that gets DVR’d just in case something special happens.  And I do expect something special.  Especially with this guy in the competition for all of us Lakers fans to cheer for (more on him tomorrow). 

*As for the 3 point contest, though the glory days of Larry Legend calmly sinking the money ball as he holds his follow through with a #1 in the air have gone and passed, I’m still interested in who wins this crown.  Is the field a bit uninspired?  Would I have liked to see a couple of other guys in this competition instead?  Sure.  But I love to see the long ball get buried and really love the sound of the swoosh when a shot gets nothing but net.  So, I’m tuning in.  And my pick…Steph Curry.

*But, this weekend isn’t all about the events and the games or even the 90,000+ fans that are expected to be in attendance.  This is also a weekend where the players union and owners will have their first substantive meetings about the expriring collective bargaining agreement and them laying the groundwork on establishing a new deal that both sides agree on.  Kurt’s got a good take over at his new digs, and I tend to agree with what he’s saying about the owners asking for the moon.  My (overall) take is that both sides know a labor agreement is tantamount to the future success of this league and if both sides drag this out or if a lockout ensues this sport will be in trouble for the long term.  It’s in everyone’s best interests to find a common ground and my hope is that they will do just that.  In the end, maybe a 50/50 split in basketball related income is on the horizon and with that a lowering in contract value and length.  But all fans care about is the league not missing a beat and the games going on without a hitch.  I know that’s all I care about. 

*One last thing – have you ever been to an All-Star game?  Are you going to this one (Texas reader Gr8 Scott has already said that he is)?  The closest I came was me and a couple of friends venturing down to Vegas a couple of years ago on the weekend of the big event.  We didn’t get tickets to the game (sadly) but we did check out the exhibits and saw our fair share of players doing it big that weekend.  We also were treated to plenty of crowds on the strip and complaining cabbies about all the people causing a raucous and all the lousy tippers.  Do you have a story?  Let’s hear ‘em in the comments (keep them somewhat family friendly, please).  In the end, enjoy this weekend.  We’ll get more stuff up over the next couple of days to keep the site going.

Darius Soriano

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30 responses to Fast Break Thoughts: All-Star Weekend Edition

  1. how long has it been since the Ls had someone in the Rookie/Sophmore game, one asks oneself. well, it was Jordan Farmar in 2007 and 2008 and Andrew Bynum in 2007. and then you have to go back to 1997 for the combo of Fisher/Bryant/Knight (when it was a watered down East v. West rookies).

    here’s a link with all the historical stuffola..
    http://tinyurl.com/y97oe8q

  2. the first trade domino may be Dallas/Washington:

    “Sources told ESPN.com that the teams’ negotiations only turned more serious Friday on a deal that would send Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and some smaller cap-friendly contracts to Washington for Butler, Haywood and Stevenson.”

    wow.

  3. Darius – This will be ASG #2 for me and #1 for my oldest son (other son is only 2 weeks old). I really think the league missed the boat by NOT having the slam dunk and 3 point contest at Jerry World. I get goose bumps thinking about Shannon holding up his SD title in front of nearly 100K fans. If the league were smart, they would copy this set up and have these games played in more domes so that more of us REAL fans could attend. I actually bought my tickets for $30 each which is not bad at all. Yes, I’ll be on the 3rd of 4 levels, but with the world’s largest screen, I should see just fine. If any other Laker fans are there, make sure to rep your gear. With Kobe out, I’m wearing the gold 16 for Pau.

  4. Steal for Dallas, and they still have Dampier’s expiring deal. Butler is an obvious upgrade over Howard and Haywood is the big man they need to rebound and protect the paint.

  5. If the Rookie game is a display of defensive futility, then the Celebrity game takes offensive suck to new planes of existence.

    I didn’t know how many ways there were to miss a shot.

    Why are they so bad? Serious question. Right now I could pick up 5 guys off the street that could do better than this. Missing open shots, throwing awful passes. There must be some ‘stadium factor’ or something that makes it harder to play than it seems.

  6. In my prior career, I wrote the news story that revealed Las Vegas was making a bid to land All-Star 2007. That was a pretty big deal for Vegas, which seems to have a collective complex about its lack of pro team.

    While covering that issue over time, I got to do a lot of cool stuff, including a couple of sit-down interviews with David Stern, and lots of conversations with celebrities, NBA players and owners, including Dr. Buss.

    I spent several days in Houston covering the 2006 All-Star events, and the stories I wrote then hopefully captured a feel for what All-Star weekend is like. (I’ll link to one below if anyone wants to read it.)

    I left the newspaper before the All-Star events in Vegas, but as a fan I got to attend the ’07 dunk/3-point/skills contests, and the atmosphere at the Thomas & Mack was a lot like what I saw in Houston the year before. I suspect these weekends are pretty much the same, year in and year out.

    The main thing that stood out is how everything is very fan-oriented. Since there’s no game competition/pressure to deal with, players generally seemed more willing to engage people (the press, fans, etc.) than in other instances in which I’ve dealt with NBA players. It’s nothing like the atmosphere that surrounds a real game day. The guys would sign autographs for kids, take time to answer questions, and so on — at least that’s what I observed as they interacted with people.

    Not to sing LeBron’s praises – I’m really starting to develop a (sports) hatred of him – but one memory that stood out in Houston really gave me a good impression of him as a person.

    After the ’06 game, there were a handful of people waiting to get on an elevator to leave the locker room level at Toyota Center. It was a very slow process because the elevator was the only way out, and you could only squeeze a few people in at a time. People had to wait two or three runs before they could get a turn to exit.

    A few minutes into this, LeBron & Co. walked up right as the elevator door opened. I totally expected him to pull the, “I’m a star, so my friends and I will cut everyone off and jump into the elevator in front of those who were waiting.”

    One of the food vendors, who like me also had been waiting, seemed to have the same thought since she looked at LeBron like, “What are you waiting for?” But before she said a word, he looked back at the woman, said, “You were here first,” and let her and some others who’d been waiting get into the elevator ahead of him and his group.

    I wound up getting on the elevator with LeBron, where another food vendor – a teenage kid, who based on that job probably didn’t have a lot of money – handed LeBron a crappy old basketball shoe and asked if he’d sign it. He looked at the kid at first with an expression that suggested, “This? Really?” But when he saw the kid was serious, LeBron just smiled, took the guy’s Sharpie and signed the nasty old shoe.

    Those actions always impressed me, because there were no cameras around. LeBron could have said “No” or worse acted like a stuck-up jerk and no one but a handful of people would have known (or even held anything against him – I wouldn’t have wanted to touch that shoe, either).

    In that quiet, out-of-the-spotlight moment, he didn’t have to act properly or politely. But he did.

    It was totally contrary to what we all witnessed after the Magic beat the Cavs last season, when LeBron came off as a sore loser. Perhaps he’s changed for the worse since that day on the elevator. But to me, that was one of the coolest All-Star experiences I’ll remember: watching a guy I’d expected to be self-centered instead act like a down-to-earth, well-mannered guy. In fact, every player I dealt with that weekend represented himself well, but that LBJ interaction stood out more than most.

    Two other funny things: seeing Dirk walking down the hallway singing “Let’s go Mavericks” to no one in particular, just like the fans would chant while at a game, and watching Vice Carter act like a 5-year-old whining because someone had stolen his game shoes from his locker as he was in the shower. Not sure why that amused me so much, but it did. (And no, I didn’t take the guy’s shoes.)

    Below is a link to one of my newspaper stories from Houston in ‘06; my guess is Dallas will be very similar this weekend.

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Feb-18-Sat-2006/news/5949790.html

  7. Quick detour from the all star game preview, but I read Ted Green’s blog on LA TIMES today.

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2010/02/ted-green-lakers-play-better-team-basketball-without-kobe.html

    The gist of the article:
    “It’s now up to [Kobe] to figure out how [Kobe] can best intersperse his offense into this perfectly symmetrical Triangle they’re playing, rather than the other way around.”

    “So [Kobe,] stop Mamba’ing so much. Let the other guys work. Let them get their touches and points too. It’ll preserve your body so you don’t have to spend so much time in the training room.”

    I know I will be in the minority on the comments and in L.A. in general, but everything Ted Green wrote, I also believe. If Kobe works his immense talents IN to the team concept, rather than the team going around him, the Lakers would be tough to beat.

    This is in no way saying we can without Kobe. It is basically saying, we can’t lose if Kobe plays this way.

    Thoughts?

    P.S. go shannon.

  8. How scared are we of amare maybe going to cleveland?

  9. Some selfish guard play in this game. I can’t blame Lopez for being frusrated with Westbrook on that play. And Jennings is just awful right now, clearly looking for his stats.

    Nate Robinson commentates like he plays – completely talking over Harlan and McHale. But he’s surprisingly good.

  10. Cavs reportedly in talks to acquire Stoudemire…scary

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4910377

  11. Amare playing for the “mistake by the lake” Cavaliers? I feel like there aren’t enough touches for LBJ, Shaq and Amare to keep them happy in the long run, but I’m sure they can ride the initial wave of excitement for the rest of this season to really do some damage before animosity grows.

  12. RE STAT to the Cavs: There are obviously a lot of reasons why this would be great for the Cavs – Amare is a great offensive player and that Lebron/Amare P&R would be devastating. However, for the minutes that Amare/Shaq share the frontcourt together, the Cavs would really suffer on D. It also depends who the Cavs would have to give up in order to make the deal. If they have to give up Hickson and Z (which I’m assuming would be the deal considering Z’s expiring deal), that may be an issue – especially if the Suns don’t buy Z out so he can return to the Cavs after the 30 day wait.

  13. 9 – The defense on both ends, especially the backcourt defense, was uncanny. Was it just me or did the sophs seem to really dislike Jennings out there? Everyone was stat-padding, but they seemed to be extra annoyed by Jennings.

    Also, I love having players as commentators during games. Let’s hope that Kobe gets some good airtime on Sunday.

  14. I can’t remember if anyone has posted this yet, but the Kamenetsky blog had some good stuff about Shannon Brown yesterday. (Apologies if it’s already been posted.)

  15. Question- Is Kobe going to Dallas and if he is, will he still assist Shannon in the dunk contest as rumored?

    I think I’m just as happy to see purple and gold in the dunk contest as I am to see it in the all star game. Maybe its because we’ve had at least one allstar their every year for the past dozen or so years but the slam dunk contest goes back to young Kobe I believe.

    I think I’ve mentioned this one time before. I have no doubts in Shannon’s leaping ability, I just hope he is half as acrobatic in the air as he is athletic or it will not be amazing. I had a buddy in highschool that couldn’t dunk on his own but could jump of someone’s back (while hunched on the ground) and do windmill’s 360′s and double clutch dunks. As you know some people that can get above the rim easily can not do one of those dunks. The difference is that my bud’s parents put him in gymnastics when he was a kid and it ended up helping him out a lot with his in air body control. Crazy huh, Gymnastics?

  16. 13 – Jennings was pissing me off, and I wasn’t playing or rooting for anyone. He was looking for a shot that was never there. Just awful shots, he seemed clueless. Westbrook kept shooting but there was absolutely no interior D, so he kept making them. And Tyreke was effective. Jennings’s awful long jumpers were horrible.

    I don’t know if you can do any image damage in a meaningless game, but I definitely dislike Jennings after that one (when combined with his past). Reminds me of Nate Robinson personality-wise.

  17. Snoopy2006

    What specifically about BJ’s past?

    I’ll admit I am a Brandon Jennings fan. I have been watching him since high school. I thought the move to Europe was smart since the NCAA is a farce IMHO.

    I didn’t get a chance to catch the game, so I can’t comment on it. I am curious as to how he played.

  18. I’d be way more worried if Jamison went to the Cavs than Stoudemire. Unlike Stoudemire, Jamison is a team player, a true veteran, who has all the same skills as Stoudemire and also actually plays defense.

  19. Jennings played exactly the same way he played in the McDonald’s game when he was in HS – dominating the ball, making sure he’s the center of it all. I’ve never seen someone make assists look selfish the way Jennings does. Don’t get me wrong though, the kid can definitely play.

  20. Defense between Amare and Antawn is about identical. Both players are not very good at this aspect of the game. Maybe because they were both born to score. Eventually, the Cavs will have to do something. Murphy has also been floated all around the rumor mill as well.

    My take: I would be happier if it was Amare than those 2. Jamison and Murphy are very good shooting bigs that stretch the floor. Among the 3, Murphy is the best interior defender and rebounder and costs the least. I would be very pissed if they landed Murphy.

    Jamison is #2. He is a gifted scorer, average rebounder and can make his own shot. That is something lacking in CLE, a guy other than Bron to create for himself when needed. With our starting lineup at Pau and Drew, covering Tawn is tougher. We might have to put in Lamar in there.

    Amare is an interior player who has an 18-ftr. But that is all he does, he is suspect on D and he doesn’t scare me outside the paint.

    Let Cleveland get the more-celebrated and more-expensive big man but would actually hurt them more than it would help.

    Please not Murphy.

  21. I really feel sorry for Kurt:

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/02/kobe-and-iverson-out-kidd-and-lee-in-for-all-star-game.php#comments

    From our comments… to those… I wonder how he feels.

  22. Simonoid – I agree. “Toothferry”, “must needed break”, and “jack@**” are just some of the least colorful words used in the comments. I think the difference between FB&G and any other site is that this site is frequented by folks who know their stuff, mostly over the age of 18, while ESPN, MSNBC, CBS, Etc. cater to the tween crowd.

  23. 20.
    Wow!
    Kurt’s got a great deal in that his new blog exposes him to more viewers/fans, but quantity doesn’t always equal quality. He’s helped to create such a fantastic community here, I hope over time he can recreate that similar atmosphere. I personally plan on posting comments to his new site in hopes of reinforcing/complimenting the other great posts, contributing new thoughts (hopefully :D), all while ignoring the toxic posts that are preying on a response.

  24. Simonoid, I am in those comments over at Kurt’s NBC site, so he has a variety of people leaving their opinions. It is a different type of site (more public?), I go over there to see his posts more than leave comments, that is why I have FB&G in addition to the NBC site to view and comment on wherever I wish to. Anyway, ShanWOW is tomorrow, and I am looking forward to seeing him in dunk action again. I am also glad that this site has the editing feature, even though I forget to use it sometimes…

  25. Sitting here late night contemplating… if this was the eve of the 2000 slam dunk competition (A.K.A Vincanity day) I would be giddy just to see a “through the legs dunk” or an “off the backboard tomahawk.”
    Ten years later being diluted by AND1 mixtapes, playstation3 video games, J. Richardson, and the 08′ Dwight Howard (only 08′, everything else was meh); I just don’t feel the same about the NBA Dunk Contest as I did in my young adolescence. The Dunks I have seen in mixtapes and “city slam” challenges that I wouldn’t mind seeing in NBA SDCs are “360 through the legs,” “off the backboard through the legs,” “720 spin,” and a dunk well behind the FT line. I would also like to see someone do JR. Smith’s “bihind the back in mid air dunk,” only with more hangtime. It was so underrated!
    Last thought on the slam dunk contest: Maybe it’s just me but dunks that are done just to prove how high above the rim you get just doesn’t really impress me anymore. If it isn’t an inovative, acrobatic, or gravity defying (mj floating in mid air) dunk it doesn’t do anything for me. Hopefully Shannon was watching one of the corny sprite commerials about the SDC and got inspired to do something NEW! (or at least something that hasn’t been done in the NBA)

  26. jeremy, it’s not just you. I think we’ve all been a bit spoiled…

  27. Ray,
    I agree with everything Green wrote. HOw Kobe is viewed historically is a huge factor in the minds of many fans; if he can do what Green discusses, it would do nothing but help his “legacy.”

  28. >I think the difference between FB&G and (m)any other site(s)..

    is simply that this site is moderated.

    something like the young_voter post would never see the light of day here, one assumes.

  29. Bynumite – the Joe Budden tape, primarily. That reeked of immaturity, to me, and his game tonight seemed to reflect that.