The New York Knicks won’t be as well-represented at the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend as they’ve been in past years, but there is still to ton to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of the team.
I’ve preached my love for the All-Star Game before (my first TOK article, has it been a year already?!?), but the whole weekend is a must-watch for any basketball junkie. Even the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game has it’s moments, and this year’s matchup will be no different. ESPN’s Mike and Mike lead a cast of characters, including Kevin Hart, Nick Cannon, Erin Heatherton, and former San Antonio Spur, Bruce Bowen, in a game that’s more about the laughs than anything else. The teams are coached by Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons, so Knicks fans can choose whether or not they want to vicariously root against the Celtics or Pacers (or both?).
The celebrity game is followed up by the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, which features the best rookies and sophomores on teams drafted by Grant Hill and Chris Webber. Tim Hardaway Jr. will be suiting up and playing alongside Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, and a slew of others that were drafted way ahead of him. The Knicks stole him with the 24th pick, but it’s great to see that Timmy is getting the respect he deserves. This game usually features more throw downs than the dunk contest itself, so instead of one of THJ’s patented corner threes, we’re much more likely to see him do this:
Hardaway Jr. will also help kick off Saturday night’s festivities, as he joins his old man and Elena Delle Donne of the WNBA in the Sears Shooting Stars competition. However, the rest of the night will be a disappointing one for the Knicks, as they have no representation in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, or Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. You think the NBA does enough advertising for this night? At what point do they start dressing the players like taco and soda bottle mascots?
Anyways, New York has been pretty spoiled in these contests over the last half-decade, so it’s hard to complain about the lack of participants. Guys like Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert, and James “Flight” White have all made appearances on All-Star Saturday in the recent past, although they have no hardware to show for it. Maybe we weren’t as spoiled as we thought.
Carmelo Anthony is all that New York has to show for the actual All-Star Game, but those delusional fans that believe in every trade rumor that they hear can watch future Knicks Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. And Blake Griffin. And Tony Parker. And Lamarcus Aldridge.
The main goal on Sunday is to keep Melo 100 percent healthy. This will be his seventh-career All-Star Game, so hopefully he’ just happy to be there and will give way to some of the younger/first-time guys.
However, the All-Star Weekend is about much more than the festivities. The droves of owners, GMs, coaches, and players convening in the same spot combined with the looming February 20th trade deadline creates the perfect storm for trade talks, and the Knicks will, no doubt, be involved. With renewed interests in Kyle Lowry and Kenneth Faried, leave it up to James Dolan to steal the show, once again. Please no first-rounders! Please no first-rounders! Please no first-rounders!
Perhaps the most important thing to keep an eye on is whether or not Mike Woodson still has a job when the hoopla is all said and done. I personally can’t believe he survived up to this point in the season, but the pressure is at an all-time high right now, and the extended break from actual NBA basketball creates the perfect window to bring in a new regime to acclimate the players with. Stay tuned to find out if he lasts the weekend.