James was certainly the star of stars. He poured in 27 points, reeled in eight rebounds, and dished out nine assists to lead the Eastern Conference to a 134-128 victory. He sealed the MVP honors with an emphatic dunk in the game’s final minute.
At the age 23, it is already James' second All-Star MVP. (Keep in mind that the record is four.) Is there anyone who doesn’t think he could have six by the time his career wraps up?
The importance of the All-Star game can be debated, but when NBA players hit the court they want to win. When the game was in balance, his teammates (the league’s best players) deferred to “the King,” allowing him to take over.
James responded by putting on a show, and helping the East regain some respect lost after last year’s 153-132 drubbing.
The NBA has been part of the revitalization of the city torn apart by Hurricane Katrina just three years ago. The city played host to the game and the sights, sounds, and tastes of New Orleans were prominent throughout. The unmistakable music, the world famous food, and the fanfare were true to the city’s nature.
While the NBA has done a great deal for the city of New Orleans, basketball has benefited more from the city. As a way of giving back to the community, the NBA has put together its NBA Cares program, highlighted over the weekend by the NBA Day of Service. Not only will they help the community, they will let you know about it (again and again).
Chris Paul and David West represented the home-town Hornets, each in his first All-Star appearance. True to his playing style, West was unspectacular but efficient. Paul stole the show for the Western Conference, collecting 14 assists to go with his 16 points.
West Big Men
Take Amare Stoudemire out of the equation for a moment; he was the lone bright spot among the group of centers and power forwards from the Western Conference. In a conference of greatly talented front-court players such as Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer, and David West, no one else emerged with a truly remarkable performance.
Duncan, Yao, and Nowitzki, the usual headliners of the conference, combined for a paltry nine goals on 26 attempts, tallying 23 points among them. Boozer put together a decent game, but shot just seven out of 15 in a game where 50 percent shooting was average.
Stoudemire’s play was spectacular at times, but that was lost in the more common displays of Nowitzki fumbling another pass, or Duncan and Yao coming up empty on three-point bombs.
The Highlight Reel
It is safe to say that more people watch the game for the highlight reel dunks and spectacular passes than for the outcome. The creativity of Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Kobe Bryant (only two minutes played) was missing in this edition of the NBA All-Star game. No one strove to wow the audience. No one’s breath was taken away.
The only defining highlight of the game was LeBron James’ drive through four defenders to dunk a basket late in the game. What else stood out? Maybe Chris Paul’s nifty fake pass, maybe the interchanging alley-oops between James and Dwight Howard (Slam Dunk champion), or maybe Amare Stoudemire’s poster-worthy dunk on Howard in the fourth quarter.
There were opportunities for creativity, and the fans have come to expect it, but wide open fast breaks were finished off with lackluster layups. Razzle-dazzle was MIA. The excitement factor was there in the end, because the game was close. That made up for a game that was otherwise not very compelling.
I thought the NBA was starting to get it last year when they went with a classic, simple look, for the All-Star game. Clearly they just got lucky. This year they went with two-tone jerseys, and players donning different colors on the front and back. Honestly, did anyone like them?
The West jerseys were white on the front and gold on the back, while the East wore uniforms that were blue on the front and silver on the back. It would be easy to look quickly and guess that four different teams were on the court.
Worse yet, the East’s silver backs looked so much like the West’s white fronts that early on it was difficult to discern which team was which, depending on the direction a player faced.
All said, these uniforms were not as bad as some of the wholly unaesthetic looks of the past; remember Michael Jordan in pastel green? The dysfunctional color-scheme almost puts it in that class.
The KISS philosophy is usually good advice, and never more applicable than with athletic uniforms. Please remember this NBA.