The 2018 NBA All Star game is in the books and it looks as if the changes brought on by Adam Silver have breathed life into what should be (but isn't) one of the most exciting games of the year. It's always fun to watch the leagues stars exhibit their offensive skills in a half hearted game of pick-up, but add a little defense into the equation and I might actually care a little more. Last night we got that. This was the most competitive and entertaining All Star game in my memory. We all know how the East/West format was ditched and we reverted back to the days of the schoolyard. Steph and Lebron were named captains and were able to pick their teams from a pool of stars, which at the very least added a little drama. We all fussed about the fact that the draft was held behind closed doors, even though the order would most certainly leak at some point. It seems we whined loud enough for the commissioner to hint that next year the fans will have it their way. The draft will likely be televised. As long as the production of such a spectacle isn't as painful as Kevin Hart's opening introductions, I'll be excited to tune in.
Though it seemed to inspire the stars to compete, the playground team selection didn't entirely solve the problem. To these guys, All Star weekend is supposed to be fun and easy going, understandable. Some guys, on the other hand, didn't take it easy during this exciting weekend in Los Angeles. I'm not talking about the Jimmy Butler types hustling on the court. I'm talking about the J.R. Smiths of the world. While some players are getting in early morning shots or hitting the gym, certain players are still putting in the real work, at the club. Most noticeably Draymond Green and James Harden. I cannot confirm that they had late nights but as a connoisseur of fine hangovers, I provide informed spectulation on the topic and they looked certifiably rough. James Harden in particular did not seem pleased with the fact that defense was being played in any capacity. Regardless of whether or not he was partying the night away, his performance on the court was lackluster and maybe blaming the booze isn't such a bad idea. Speaking of poor performances, it's safe to say Fergie was probably at the same party. Sheesh.
One man who did show up was eventual All Star game MVP Lebron James. The King put on a show as usual. He finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists and was the unanimous winner of the award. While team Steph held the lead for much of the game, team Lebron had them right where they wanted them. In the fourth quarter Lebron's squad turned on the defense and absolutely snuffed out Curry's team of sharpshooters. You could almost see the tears of joy running down LBJ's face as he remembered what it was like to play on a defensively competent team.
In general, this was a much better game than in years past. We got our fix of deep threes and violent dunks while avoiding Steph Curry literally laying down like last year. For once the game wasn't the hardest thing to watch. Whether we have Adam Silver or Kevin Hart/Fergie to thank for that, is up to you. All I know is we made some welcomed progress and somewhere down the line the All Star game could be what it should be. The ultimate showcase of basketball skill and competitiveness.