Normally, the NBA All-Star Game is a glorified exhibition by the world’s best players, up until the fourth quarter, when things begin to get serious and a competitive spirit takes over down the home stretch.
This year’s game in New Orleans decided to follow a different script, where the defense that was expected to appear in the fourth quarter went missing like the excitement from All-Star Saturday night and John Legend’s yawner of a halftime performance.
The West beat the East 192-182 behind a record-breaking performance by Anthony Davis, who scored 52 points, shattering Wilt Chamberlains record of 42. Russell Westbrook finished with 41.
The coolest thing about it, though we wish Commissioner Adam Silver had told us previously so that we could have made other plans on Saturday, was that the dunk contest actually took place during the game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka The Greek Freak, was the best player on the floor for the East, finishing with 30 points. Kyrie Irving had 22 points and 14 assists, Kevin Durant had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and his former teammate Russell Westbrook made his own attempt to break Chamberlain’s record, which was set in 1962, with 41 points of his own.
Stephen Curry scored 21 points LeBron James pumped in 23 to become the first All-Star to eclipse 300 points in a career and Isaiah Thomas scored 20 for the East.
The most over-hyped moment of the night was an alley-oop pass that Durant threw to Westbrook, which folks seem to celebrate with the fervor of a game-winning three-pointer in the playoffs. Russ checked in for the first time with 6:07 to play in the first quarter, joining Durant on the court as a teammate for the first time since last season’s Western Conference finals.
A minute in to their pairing, Russ drove the rock into the paint and hit Durant with a pass that KD quickly lobbed back for his former teammate to slam with a flourish.
Any concept of defense was about as absent from the game as any sense of decorum in a recent presidential news conference.
It was nice to see the best players toss lobs and throw down a few illmatic dunks, but the best part of the weekend was the array of Air Jordan kicks that were released during the weekend.
The @Jumpman23 Air Jordan XXXI
Nike.com (@nikestore) February 16, 2017
If I was Adam Silver, I’d be concerned that the weekend was a dud of such epic proportions, from the slam dunk competition to the halftime show to a game bereft of any competitive juices. Folks comparing this to a pick-up game have it all wrong. On the blacktop, cats actually take pride in playing “D”.
Well, with that sideshow out of the way, we can now get back to playing some real ball as the season pushes towards what promises to be an exciting playoff.