All-Star Weekend Forces LeBron, Wade and Bosh to Engage with 'Enemy' Pacers

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All-Star Weekend Forces LeBron, Wade and Bosh to Engage with 'Enemy' Pacers
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PHOENIX — You want to watch a basketball version of "Who's on First?" break out?

Just ask a couple of the NBA's biggest names—10-time All-Stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James—to name all of their All-Star coaches, as Bleacher Report did earlier this week.

"Have we doubled up?" Wade asked James.

"I don't even know," James said.

"Maybe once," Wade said. "I don't think we doubled up a lot."

"Nope, nope," James said.

Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau...

"Yeah, Doc, Thibs, Mike Brown...," James said.

"Stan (Van Gundy) and Spo," Wade said.

"Stan, Spo, Doc, Thibs," James said.

"Didn't we have Rick Carlisle one year?" Wade said.

James couldn't remember that one. Which was accurate, because it didn't happen.

"Mike Brown," James said.

"Oh, we had Mike Brown, yeah," Wade said.

"Who were the other three?" James asked.

"Didn't we have Rick Carlisle one year?" Wade tried again.

"I don't remember having Rick Carlisle," James said. "Our first year who did we have?"

"Our first year we had Stan," Wade said. "Because I came off the bench..."

"Who was our coach in Vegas?" James asked. "I don't remember the coaches. It's been a coaching carousel these last 10 years. I don't even know what's going on."

"I think we doubled up," Wade said. "Maybe once."

Larry Brown?

"No," Wade and James said at once. "No."

"That's a good question," James said. "We need to figure that out."

*****

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The Miami Heat stars did eventually figure almost all of it out, with a little help from a reporter, a media relations assistant and James' Samsung phone.

Starting in 2005, here's the list: Stan Van Gundy, Flip Saunders, Eddie Jordan (whom James discovered but Wade couldn't remember), Doc Rivers, Mike Brown, Stan Van Gundy again ("the year I got MVP, he let me get loose," Wade said), Doc Rivers again, Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra.

"And now Frank Vogel," James said.

Yes, Frank Vogel, the coach of the team's current closet rival, the Indiana Pacers.

The stars' difficulty in identifying their All-Star coaches would seem to undercut attaching any significance to James, Wade and Chris Bosh spending a weekend under the watch of Vogel and several Pacers assistants and staffers.

After all, this isn't the most serious exercise on the NBA schedule. Last season, Spoelstra coached the East, and he was entirely exasperated by the experience, since the game itself is little more than a defenseless dunking exhibition.

"Yeah, he was really uncomfortable," Wade said, laughing. "He gave a speech about, 'Let's go out there and give it our all,' and guys were like, 'OK, yeah.'"

Spoelstra wouldn't have been allowed to coach the East team this season, even if the Heat held the conference's top seed since the league no longer allows—or rather, compels—coaches to perform the duties two straight years. That wasn't true back in the 1980s, when Pat Riley coached the West eight times between 1982 and 1990.

This week, before Wade missed the Heat's final two games prior to the break—with a migraine and a numb left foot—Spoelstra scoffed at a question about whether he'd call Vogel to request tight monitoring of Wade's minutes.

He said no one called him last season ("though I was aware of Doc's stance with Kevin Garnett"), and there was no need for concern, considering the limited energy expended in the contest.

So, maybe it's a silly worry, that Vogel try to tire out the Heat's Big Three to gain some edge for the second half of the season, with his Pacers holding a 2.5-game lead in the East. But some All-Star coaches have catered to their own guys, whether those players want more minutes or fewer.

"Thibs played his dudes like six minutes total," Bosh said of the 2012 All-Star game. "Like, hey, man, come on."

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Vogel has two of his players, starter Paul George and reserve Roy Hibbert, available to him. And Bosh, for one, was intrigued by the chance for greater interaction with the Indiana contingent.

"It's interesting because you get to see how they function to a certain extent, so we'll get to see the enemy up close and personal," Bosh said. "So that will be good for us. Maybe we can plant some seeds."

He laughed.

"It's interesting because it's whoever's top at the time, so you are going to see them," Bosh said. "I remember the Celtics when Doc was still there. They said some interesting things. They were just like, 'Hey, I wish I could wish you luck, but I'm not. So stay healthy.' I was like, OK, I can respect that."

That was in 2011. And while much was made of the Celtics calling out the Heat's plays last February ("they kind of knew our offense," Wade said), that actually happens regularly on this weekend. Ray Allen, who was a Celtic on that 2011 East team, said it happened to Rivers, too.

"That's kind of the disadvantage of a coach, if he coaches the team, and you've got all these guys you (play against) in the playoffs," Allen said. "You start looking around like, these guys are really paying attention. So it's like, let me not show any of my stuff."

Then again as Allen acknowledges, "We all know each other's stuff anyway."

So it's more of a social experiment than a strategy session.

"You get to see coaches' personalities a little bit," Wade said. "You're be like, that coach is real cool. Or that coach is...eh."

"You interact," said Bosh, who will be playing in his ninth straight All-Star Game, all of them on the same side as Wade and James. "You see how dudes are, they see who you are. It's interesting, because you don't get to see that often, you don't see dudes in their element. And they give you a glimpse of who they are. It's inevitable. It's gonna happen.

"Because it is over the course of a weekend. We do spend time together, All-Stars do. So we'll be taking some notes, we'll definitely be taking some notes. And they'll be taking notes on us."

Wade and Bosh tend to take different approaches to All-Star team bonding.

"Actually, to me, personally, that's a weekend that I feel that all guys kind of let their hair down a little bit," Wade said. "I communicate more. I'm a silly guy, I like to laugh, I like to joke. That weekend, you're around guys. Last year, we even joked a lot with Joakim Noah.

"Ain't no hi's when we play each other, we don't dap each other up. But All-Star Weekend, everyone kind of lets their hair down a little bit, and enjoy it. Then we go back to being ourselves."

Sam Forencich/Getty Images

But Bosh? 

He plays it a little tighter.

Asked if he can remember taking anything particular of value from playing with rivals that helped him in playoff series, he says, "It's tough to say. I can't remember if I took anything. It's more so what I want to give off. It's more so the aura that I want to put in the room, that we want to put in the room."

What sort of aura?

"It's just where you can feel it," Bosh said. "I think that's good enough."

So, the aura of a champion?

"I think so," Bosh said. "When you walk into All-Star and you're top dog, there's a certain swagger that you have. Yeah, we're here, and it feels good. It feels good because you work hard for that stuff. To come in having been successful, and people know you're successful, you just carry that with you. And you just want to perpetuate that everywhere you go."

Told of Bosh's supposedly standoffish approach, Wade chuckled again.

"Chris is Chris," Wade said. "He is who he is. He'll be lucky if he talks to you one day, you know what I'm saying. You don't know who he's gonna talk to."

Odds are he'll talk plenty to his Heat teammates, his real teammates, when the real season starts up again. 

Maybe they'll even talk about their All-Star coaches, those they can recall.

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