The NBA All-Star Game is the most exciting of its kind when compared to that of the other major three sports. Well, the NHL’s has become pretty exciting, but you’d have to be a hockey fan to appreciate its setup. The NBA’s version is also so great because it basically marks the last time goodwill is spread. Before the ASG, a lot of teams and players are in cruise control, mainly with the goal of just trying to stay healthy. Come the morning after the ASG, all hell breaks loose. Teams are trying to position themselves for the playoffs and, believe it or not, players want those individual awards, too.
A recent conversation with Ed about the game in question basically spawned a wish list of things we wanted to see happen. J.R. Smith as a last-minute addition to the three-point contest didn’t make the cut. Neither did seeing Paul George jump through a ring of fire with ball in one hand and a carton of air freshener in the other (seriously, would that or would that not be the stupidest/craziest/greatest dunk of all time or what?!?). What I did come up with, however, were five things that could happen, should happen but, nine times out of ten, won’t happen.
1. Dwight Howard Vs. Shaquille O’Neal Kicks Up Another Notch
Play this scenario out in your head. Early in the first quarter, the game still has a playful feel. Not much defense is being attempted, alley-oops appear more frequent than jumpshots and somehow Jeremy Lin becomes a topic of discussion. Everything seems normal. This is when Carmelo Anthony grabs an innocent rebound deciding to push the ball up the court himself. Dwight Howard, lightly jogging behind on the wing, receives a simple bounce pass around the free throw line, dribbles one time and elevates. Of course, we’re about to see a dunk, but what makes this better is Andrew Bynum jumping along with D12. The end result is a big man-on-big man dunk that goes down in NBA history as one of the greatest of all-time, instantly conjuring memories of Shaq’s decapitation of David Robinson during the 1996 All-Star Game.
No, I’m not done. The West calls timeout after Bynum has his pride stripped from him on national television and before going to commercial break, Dwight lifts up his jersey only to show a Superman Under Armour wife beater (or some variation of it). Now, in a fantasy world, Shaq then runs on the court to defend the honor of his holy nickname and fisticuffs occur, leaving the city of Orlando like that girl in the movie I can’t remember the name of which sees her dating two guys who damn near try to kill themselves for her love (but neither Shaq or Dwight want Orlando, so maybe it’s not like that at all). Anyway, after weeks of Shaq ragging Howard on Inside The NBA and interviews, and saying Bynum is the best center in basketball, D12 gives him the proverbial middle finger in front of the entire country. Chuck, Kenny and E.J. never let The Diesel live this down.
2. Charles Oakley Attends Game, Barkley Calls Him Out
Long-time NBA O.G., Charles Oakley, made news this past week when he basically called Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley pussies. Those weren’t his exact words, but if you read the article, that’s what he said without saying it. I’d never actually disagree with Oak to his face, for the reason that he still appears country strong. And that strength doesn’t exactly fade with age. However, Chuck has never struck me as the type to back down from anybody either.
With the former Round Mound Of Rebound having such a prominent role on T.V. these days, hearing Chuck’s response – because you KNOW he has one – during halftime of the game needs to happen. Also, if the NBA hasn’t shot a comp ticket to Oakley by now, they need to do so. Remember how everyone thought Drake and Common being in the Staples Center for the Grammys would lead to fireworks (no pun intended and it allegedly had a few sparklers go off)? Well, Oakley and Barkley in the same building Sunday would almost be throwing gasoline on a lit match. I’m not advocating for violence in any sort, but tell me you wouldn’t want to see these two O.G.’s vying for the love of Michael Jordan send some more shots back and forth.
People always complain the game isn’t played like it was in the ’80s and ’90s anymore. Here’s your flashback moment.
3. The Game Sees North Of 300 Points
For this to go down, three things need to happen:
a. Both teams should implement the old Phoenix Suns “seven seconds or less” rule.
b. There has to be a combined 150-170 points by halftime.
c. Carmelo Anthony is NOT allowed to go into isolation.
4. The Point Guard Royal Rumble
You saw our point guard list, and it’s no surprise every floor general is in this game. The East touts Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo (who takes the place of Joe Johnson; **every basketball fan breaths a sigh of relief**) while the West sports Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Steve Nash. That’s another reason why I honest think the game has an opportunity to clip the 300-point plateau. With no Tim Duncan to slow the pace down, this game will be a track meet and Jesus only knows what the assist total will be at the end of the game (or Westbrook’s field goal attempts).
There’s a shitload with the subplots here, too. Steve Nash proving that, at 38, he can still run with anybody in the League, while unintentionally convincing a contender to, at least, make a run at him before the trade deadline. Deron Williams on a national stage for the first time in what feels like forever getting the chance to remind everyone why he is arguably the game’s premiere point guard. Rajon Rondo vs. Russell Westbrook in the “The-Internet-Had-Us-Traded-For-Each-Other” matchup. And lastly, Rose vs. Paul; this one actually needs no build up.
Also, that last battle ultimately falls in Thibs’ hands, so let’s hope he doesn’t use the “I don’t want to play my star too much, because I will play him too much once the real games start back up” methodology.
5. Kevin Durant Vs. LeBron James To Close The Game
Look, this is no shade towards Kobe Bryant or his faithful congregation, but LeBron James and Kevin Durant are currently the two best players in basketball. There’s really no argument against it either. Speaking of Kobe, the chance of this wish actually coming to fruition is slim to none mainly because Bean absolutely lives for moments like these and he will be gunning for ASG MVP. However, in a close game, seeing LeBron and K.D. go at it for the last three or four minutes would be a basketball fan’s wet dream.
I know, I know. “Tins, get off Bron’s dick for once (no Sandusky). LeBron doesn’t want that glory. He’ll defer to D-Wade. Are you an idiot, or are you that blind? Do you not remember the Finals?” Trust me, I’ve heard it all, and then some. But let’s not act like this has absolutely no chance in David Stern’s hell in happening. And let’s not act like LeBron wasn’t hands down the best player for Miami last year in the playoffs, until their Game Two collapse against Dallas (you know in your heart of hearts this is true). Regardless, an Oklahoma City/Miami Finals seems to be what the cool kids want to see this year and why not have a preview on Sunday? Seeing K.D. and LBJ trade baskets, dunks, crazy passes and then some would not only have Twitter in a frenzy, but it would also be what the league would market until the playoffs. Hearing Marv Albert call it play-for-play? Jesus, yes.
There’s a large profit and a new rivalry for years to come in this as well. Durant, the good guy and the player everyone loves for simply playing the game “the right way,” vs. LeBron, still probably the most despised (yet talented) man in sports looking to re-write the wrongs of last June. And if one of them hit the game-winner over the other? Man, listen. I’ll just shut up now. Kobe won’t let this happen anyway.