Only a league as decadent as the NBA could take an all-star game and spread it out over the course of a whole weekend. And though some of the festivities can be a bit much, for the most part all-star weekend is a warm and engaging spectacle. Amidst a light wind of controversy NBA commissioner David Stern granted the wishes of many fans, owners and players by allowing the games to be played in Las Vegas.
Only a league as decadent as the NBA could take an all-star game and spread it out over the course of a whole weekend. And though some of the festivities can be a bit much, for the most part all-star weekend is a warm and engaging spectacle.
Amidst a light wind of controversy NBA commissioner David Stern granted the wishes of many fans, owners and players by allowing the games to be played in Las Vegas. In many ways the 2007 all-star game was the city’s “audition” for it’s own NBA team. Here’s how the weekend played out.
As with any good party, you have to save the best for last and the warm-up duties (as do all the dirty jobs in the NBA) fell to the rookies. Friday, the league’s most intriguing first-year players went up against a team of second-year players.
For no discernable reason the rookie-sophomore challenge is played in two 20-minute halves, rather than the typical NBA format of four 15-mintue quarters.
The sophomore team easily dispatched their younger counterparts 155-114. It is their fifth straight win.
New York sophomore forward David Lee had somewhat of a coming-out party at the event. On his way to picking up the MVP trophy, Lee hit all 14 of his shots, many of which were dunks and layups.
Fellow sophomores Monta Ellis, Chris Paul and Deron Williams also had impressive outings. Ellis hit 13 of his 16 attempts and showed some pretty astounding hops for a little guy.
Portland’s only representative, Brandon Roy, had 6 points in the contest.
All kinds of events took place Saturday, but they were all to drag out TV coverage in the buildup to the dunk contest. This year, however, there was a special addition to the docket.
TNT analyst and former NBA great Charles Barkley challenged 67-year old referee Dick Bavetta to a footrace. The winner’s charity of choice would receive $50,000.
Barkley, who is more than a few Las Vegas buffets away from playing shape, beat Bavetta by a nose.
Once he caught his breath, the always jovial and mostly crass Barkley joked that he had just won “two blackjack hands for charity.”
After one final round of fluff (a Penn and Teller magic show), it was on to the main course: the dunk contest.
Although the contest has sometimes been criticized for its lack of star power, it’s always something to behold. Last year’s 5-foot-9 champion Nate Robinson made it to the finals but lost to Gerald Green. Robinson dug his own grave when he again failed on several consecutive attempts. Green’s dunks were impressive, especially when he showed off his high-flying ability, going first over Robinson and then over the scores table, but will not likely leave a lasting memory.
Dwight Howard’s dunk where he planted a sticker of his smiling face atop the backboard with his non-dunking hand was robbed when his thunderous style did not make the finals.
Finally the time everyone had been waiting for. LeBron, Wade, Shaq, Kobe, Amare and Carmello-all the guys you recognize with just one name were there and ready to show off some moves.
And while the all-star game will always showcase amazing athleticism, skills and more sick dunks than you can shake a stick at, fans always hope they’ll get a close game. This year they didn’t.
The Western squad built a sizeable lead in the second quarter and sat on it down the home stretch on their way to a 153-132 win. Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, perhaps the most prolific offensive coach ever, finds himself in the perfect situation in an all-star contest.
Kobe Bryant, with his 31 points, edged out Amare Stoudemire for his second all-star MVP trophy. Stoudemire finished with 29. LeBron James led the East with 28.