With the best basketball talent on the planet convening in Houston for the NBA All-Star Game, we are guaranteed to see a show. This isn’t the Pro Bowl, where players are closer to being on vacation than they are to being on a football field. This isn’t baseball’s Midsummer Classic, where you have to endure nine dreadful innings (equivalent to three days of Earth time) and rosters deep enough to field four teams. This is the NBA’s way of giving back to their fans and we couldn’t ask for anything more.
Sure, the play can be sloppy and schoolyard-ish at times, but can you fault players for being unable to make snap decisions when Blake Griffin is streaking to the basket for an alley-oop on one side while Kevin Durant waits wide open for three on the other? The up-and-down, frantic pace creates tons of opportunities for exciting dunks and no look passes, and watching Chris Paul handle the ball like it’s on a string is a sight to see in it’s own. The All-Star Game would be the perfect game for Mike D’Antoni to coach year in and year out regardless of record, but come fourth quarter, the competitive juices start flowing and the dunking clinic all of a sudden becomes a legitimate basketball game. The fact that these guys go out there and play their hardest is a testament to their true love of the game and fans that got them where they are. The passion they bring to a “meaningless” game is something not replicated by any other of the four major sports.
So as Knicks fans, what should we look for in Sunday’s game? The obvious priority is to keep both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler healthy. Melo got a little dinged up last game, but plans on starting after it was revealed his injury was nothing more than a contusion. Tyson scares me because he is the type of physical player that can get hurt whenever because of his style of play. However, his defensive attitude should be toned down a bit throughout most of this game. Can’t forget about David Lee, who Knicks fans should still have plenty of love for despite now playing for Golden State.
Aside from that, there are no major story lines heading into this year’s game. The whole weekend is a celebration of Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday so brace yourselves for tons of highlights of MJ going off all over our Knicks. I guess it’s fitting that this year’s festivities are being held in Houston, the only city to sneak in a couple championships between Chicago three-peats. Happy watching!