NBA: All About the All-Stars

 

 

Alexander Frost

This past weekend was the NBA All-Star Game, the yearly exhibition of the most tal­ented and popular players in the NBA. It was a fast-paced game filled with dunks, play­ful taunting between players and, appar­ently, concussions of future Hall-of-Famers. All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable All-Star Games in recent memory and pro­vided a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the season.

The first half of the All-Star Game was the typical defenseless show, with the Western All- Stars surging ahead to a commanding lead. Just about all of the Western Conference roster poured in points, which included Blake Grif­fin with a three-pointer and Russell Westbrook heating up with freakish dunks that would only get more venomous by the second half. Accord­ing to Dwyane Wade, the West had three differ­ent players going for the MVP in the first half in Westbrook, Durant and Kobe, and that can be credited as one of the reasons that the West gained such a large lead.

The second half is where things truly got in­teresting, as by the fourth quarter, the East had made a game of it and players finally began play­ing some semblance of defense. It can’t really be called defense, but the fact that players were even trying to play on the defensive side of the ball is a testament to how tensions were ramp­ing up as different players went for the MVP. This culminated with Dwyane Wade’s hard foul on Kobe Bryant under the basket, which didn’t look intentional, but did come out of the blue after the series of dunks allowed with no fouls throughout the game. Kobe shot a free throw and then came out of the game momentarily with a bloody nose. Now we know that Dwy­ane Wade broke Kobe’s nose and gave him a concussion, an obvious setback for the Lakers. Wade also turned heads by not walking over and apologizing to Bryant right after the foul, although he did apologize a day later. Regardless of whether it was a purposeful assault on Bryant, Wade has now been involved in two injuries of star players, going back to Rajon Rondo in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. You could see some bad blood rise up in the NBA if it happens again.

The part of the second half that made the game most exciting was the back-and-forth battle between Kevin Durant and LeBron James for the game’s MVP award. LeBron led a surge of points that brought the East within a basket of the win by making ridiculous long range shots, tossing them up off balance and hitting bank shots regularly. Durant held the course, however, and kept the West a step ahead, pri­marily with his consistent mid-range jumper. LeBron and Durant showed why they are the leaders of the two best teams in their respective conferences and the odds-on favorites to have a showdown in the NBA finals.

For most of the fourth quarter, the topic of conversation was that, despite LeBron’s surge, he still failed in the clutch…of an exhibition game. First, Kobe Bryant was covering him with about 15 seconds left down by a basket, but instead of going to the hoop or shooting, he passed the ball away to Deron Williams. The other players on his team could be seen raising their hands and asking LeBron why he did not shoot the ball. LeBron promptly got the ball back and tried to make a pass across the court, which was quickly intercepted by Blake Griffin. In short, LeBron failed in the clutch yet again and Durant’s stel­lar night overshadowed his own, mostly due to his mental failings. It is conceivable that the Durant-versus-LeBron showdown will end up determining the NBA championship this year, as it seems fairly easy to say that the Heat and Thunder are the best teams in the NBA. The All-Star Game only adds to the anticipation.

This was a very enjoyable All-Star Game, not only for the typical scoring display, but also because it highlighted some of the best storylines for not only this season, but for the next decade. Durant showed his skill and Westbrook showed that he is a phenomenal athlete. LeBron went head-to-head with Durant and struggled in the clutch. Wade and Kobe had a conflict emblem­atic of their current struggle to be the best shoot­ing guard in the NBA. Dwight Howard goofed off, Derrick Rose took the game extremely seri­ously and Chris Paul made some crazy passes to Blake Griffin. Really, it was more than an All- Star Game; it was a microcosm of the current and future state of the NBA, and for that, it was nice to see.

Contact Alexander Frost at [email protected]