The NBA All-Star game is one of my favorite sporting events.
It’s not because the stakes are high (they’re not) or that the result means anything more than some bragging rights for the conference that wins (it doesn’t), but because of the sheer amount of talent that’s on the floor playing the game at its highest level. (At least when the fourth quarter comes and both teams bear down and try to win.)
The NBA is a league of superstars and while there are some who aren’t in this game today (Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo are a few examples), this game still boasts the best players in the world doing what they do best for our entertainment. How can you not love that?
While the Lakers are well represented in this game with Kobe and Dwight starting for the West, my focus isn’t really on them today. To be completely honest, this weekend has been a nice reprieve from all things Lakers. This season has been a trying one not just for the players and team execs, but for the fans.
So, even though I think it’s great (and pretty amazing in his 17th season) that Kobe is in this game again and is showing few signs of it being his last appearance and that Dwight, despite a year that’s not been up to his normal (incredibly high) standards, is his conference’s starting Center again, I’m actually just looking forward to good basketball from the best players without my entire focus being on how far back the Lakers are behind the Rockets for the 8th seed. That stuff can wait for another day.
For me, today is about LeBron, Durant, Wade, and CP3 — four players who lead some of the best teams in the league. It’s about Timmy and KG — two front court legends who are still playing at an extremely high level. It’s about Westbrook and Kyrie — two young PG’s who go about their craft in different ways, but are so damn entertaining for how they play. It’s about first timers like Noah and George; about the walking highlight reel Blake Griffin who will, for the foreseeable future, be a starter in this game. And, of course, I’ll be interested in Kobe and Dwight — two teammates who seem have been mainstays in this game for nearly their entire careers but for the first time team up in this game.
How the game unfolds is anyone’s guess. My two cents are that the game is pretty close throughout, but that the West will take command at some point (likely right before the end of the first half or start of the 2nd). I then envision the East making a run to get the game close down the stretch with LeBron leading the way. And then, in the end, I see the West holding on with some key shot making coming from Durant and Kobe.
A few additional thoughts:
- How much will Dwight play? He’s openly spoken about how his back is at around 75% and, of course, he still has a torn labrum. My hope is that he plays around 15 minutes, has his good time, and then takes his seat on the bench while the other big men take most of the minutes.
- Will the East’s newcomers show any nerves? Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, and Paul George are all first timers. I think Noah will play his normal game; he’s a low usage big man and games like this are typically dominated by the guards anyway. Lopez and George, though, are high usage players who are used to scoring the ball and doing multiple things to help their team win. Sometimes, those guys can struggle when it’s their first time on this stage.
- Will Pop rest his guys? Timmy has missed games lately with a sore knee and Parker has been carrying a big load for the Spurs this year. I’d imagine he’d give them token minutes and then let them rest up. We’ll see, however.
- One of the things I love about this game are the potential for wild lineups. For example, I’d love to see a Paul, Westbrook, Harden, Durant, and Griffin lineup just to see all that athleticism and finishing ability flanking Paul. In the East, I’d love to see a Kyrie, Wade, LeBron, Carmelo, and Noah lineup for the mix of elite scoring with Noah’s frenetic energy and passing ability in the middle of it all. There are many other variations, of course.
At the end of the day, the stories will play out and write themselves. I’m just happy we get to watch it all go down. Enjoy the game, folks. It should be a good one.