It’s finally time for the main event of the weekend.
After a three point contest that saw Kevin Love take out two pure shooters (though, to be fair, both KD and James Jones looked off) and a dunk contest that should immediately be erased from our memories ala Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it will be nice to have an actual game to cheer for.
And really, that’s what today’s game should offer: a chance to cheer. While I want the West to win and would like to see good showings from Kobe and Bynum, this is more about enjoying the incredible amount of talent on the floor as a basketball fan. With all the best players in the league in one place, I don’t see how tonight could really be about anything else.
With that said, I won’t just be watching the action on the floor with an eye for good basketball. There are other things I’ll be watching for as the game unfolds:
- How hard will Kobe go? Last year I wondered before the contest if Kobe would go after the MVP and my curiousness was well founded as Bean attacked from the opening tip and ended up winning the award for the 4th time. Tonight, though, will he go after it the same way? Last year’s game was in Los Angeles and one of the main backstories heading into the weekend was the Lakers poor play with Kobe’s play serving as a strong reminder that he, and his team, should not be dismissed. This game doesn’t offer the same environment or circumstances (though Kobe is close to becoming the ASG’s all time leading scorer) and I wonder if he’ll approach the game the same way.
- How assertive will Bynum be? This is his first all-star game and there are often a heavy dose of nerves that come with that. Will he be consumed by the nerves or will he put them aside and show he belongs? He’ll be matched up with Dwight Howard at the start of the game but he’ll be sharing the floor with (arguably) the best 7 best players in the league when the game starts (LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Paul, Durant, Howard, and Rose in no particular order). With that level of talent on the floor, how Bynum fits in will be an interesting note on his first all-star experience.
- Who will be the MVP? In year’s past, the home team guy has a leg up in chasing the MVP. His teammates look for him more and that guy has a bit extra in his tank to go after it. Will this trend hold for Dwight Howard tonight? His situation is complicated by his desire to be traded from the Magic (and thus the city of Orlando) and by the talent of his teammates (LeBron, Wade, Rose) who are all prime candidates to win the award themselves and put their stamps on this game. Personally, I think the MVP will come down to LeBron or Durant but I could also see Rose sneaking in there and taking it.
- I wonder this every year, but who will take the shots down the stretch if the game is close? In year’s past, for the West, Kobe has been this guy but last year Durant hit a big shot in the closing minute as Kobe sort of faltered. Will KD be the main dog now or will Kobe still be the guy the West goes to? And what of the East? Will LeBron take the shot or play the set up role? Will Wade be that guy? Maybe Rose will carry over his role with the Bulls to the East team? I simply hope we get a close game so we can see how it all goes down.
- What funky lineups will we see? I love the idea of a Paul, Durant, Dirk, Love, and Bynum super-sized line up for the West. I’d love to see a Nelly inspired Wade, LeBron, Melo, Iguodala, and Rondo lineup for the East where every player could handle the ball, create shots for himself or a teammate, and get out in the open floor and run a killer fast break. There are a million different ways to mix and match the best players in the world and I can’t wait to see what Brooks and Thibs do.