All-Star Weekend: Winners and Losers
PHOENIX -- It wasn't "one of those" weekends for the NBA All-Star game. Nobody shot anybody (that we know of), there weren't any amazing plays in the All-Star game, and the biggest storyline was two players that we, as the media, have hyped up as hating each other reuniting for co-MVP awards. But the weekend did give us some highs and lows and, all in all, was a pretty good time in the desert.
Media Members -- Sitting in our little press row watching the All-Star Game, my coworker Brett Pollakoff was struggling for a storyline in a defensive-minded All-Star Game. I guarantee he wasn't the only one in that position.
But with Shaquille O'Neal coming out in the second half and having a little fun (Phil Jackson said after the game, "That's the first time I have seen an MVP that played 11 minutes in an All-Star Game.") and Kobe Bryant looking like a man on mission, the co-MVP awards gave all media members around this great land something to submit to their editors.
Kevin Durant -- Does this kid have a little Kobe in him? A stealthy performance in the Rookie game followed by a HORSE victory that was basically a victory rooted more in "I don't want to lose" than "I want to win," the second-year player out of Texas is starting to look just like the kid we thought he may be.
Wait for him to get in the big game over the weekend. It might be a battle to see who takes home the hardware at the end of the game.
Shaq's Personality -- He might be one of the more unique people in the world right now, a 7-footer with an even bigger personality that resounds with all people, no matter age or race. His dance during the introductions was absolutely fantastic and exactly what we've come to expect, and although it seems we've seen it all before with the big man, he pulls more cards from his pocket.
If more people in sports had his attitude, the world would be more jokes and less sighs. He is a giant "For the Win" advertisement and this video is just another example of how great he is. Whatever TNT has to pay O'Neal when he retires to be on their broadcast team, it will be worth it.
The Phoenix Suns -- It was basically a "Favre meets the NBA" move for the Suns, leaking the news that Terry Porter was fired as head coach while the All-Star game was going on in Phoenix! Talk obviously surrounded the event the last two days because of the news, and it took away from the real reason all the media members were around -- to cover the greatest of the NBA. When asked after the game on Sunday about all the Suns news, Phil Jackson took the high road. "I really hesitate to talk about it. This is an All-Star break."
The Fans -- Personally, I have never attended an All-Star Game until this weekend, but I have watched them on television, and none have seemed as lackadaisical as Phoenix. Players seemed to mope through the Skills Challenge, they struggled in the 3-point shootout, and the slam dunk contest ended with a guy overstepping the obligatory free-throw leap by at least a foot.
If that wasn't enough, the All-Star Game seemed more like a regular-season NBA game than an exhibition. Players were fouling when guys got past them. Free throws attempts were more commonplace than a crowd shaking dunk, and it looked like nobody got the memo to avoid playing lock-down defense so the fans could see high-flying action.