Close Finish, Record Crowd Highlight the 2010 NBA All-Star Game
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dwyane Wade was the MVP of the 2010 NBA All-Star game, as the East defeated the West by a final score of 141-139. Leading up to the big event, the stadium was the story, and continued to loom larger than life over the festivities with a world record-setting 108,713 people packed to the rooftop to watch the league's midseason showcase take place.
"Growing up, you don't even know what a hundred thousand is," LeBron James said afterward, of playing in front of such a large crowd. "You grow up, you say you're playing in front of a building at capacity, probably six or seven hundred people if you go to high school basketball games.
"Growing up, you can't even count to 100,000."
The magnitude of the game is something that could truly only be appreciated in person.
A football stadium is normally no place to watch a basketball game, and some of the seats were so far away that the people sitting in them surely watched it exclusively on the enourmous, HD-quality screen that stretched the length of the court and then some. But the league marketed it as a "must-attend," and it was obvious by the turnout that they were successful in that endeavor.
Judging by the way things played out, with the result not being decided until the game's final possession, it's a virtual certainty that no one regretted showing up.
The East took a 76-69 lead into halftime, led by 10 points and seven assists from Wade. Carmelo Anthony was gunning for the MVP early on, as demonstrated by the 17 points and eight rebounds he compiled by the break.
Dirk Nowitzki was the main man all weekend with his team playing host, and he started things off by hitting the first basket of the game, which came after a pass from former teammate Steve Nash. His teammate Jason Kidd, who was a late addition when Kobe Bryant backed out due to injury, played just three minutes and didn't score.
Other first half highlights included a three-pointer from Dwight Howard (who was previously 1-for-16 in his career from that distance) and a playful skirmish between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, which came after James rejected one of 'Melo's shots at the rim.
LeBron was called for goaltending on the play, and tapped Anthony on the head in a pretend show of anger, before the two ran back down the court chest to chest.
After halftime concert performances from Shakira and Alicia Keys, the third quarter got going, and with it so did the highlights.
The East pushed the lead to as many as 16 points in the period, while converting several alley-oop dunks in the process. Wade found both LeBron James and Dwight Howard for jams off of lob passes, before James returned the favor and found Wade right at the rim.
But the West fought back, largely due to the performance of Chauncey Billups. He had 14 points in the final period, and hit the step-back jumper that brought the West all the way back to tie the game at 137 apiece.
Amar'e Stoudemire defended James about as well as one can on the next possession, forcing a miss on a drive to the basket before securing the defensive rebound. Clutch free throws were then exchanged between Wade, Nowitzki, and Chris Bosh, before the final possession was put in the hands of Carmelo Anthony with five seconds remaining.
Depending on who you asked afterward, the play was designed for Dirk, but supposedly he was defended too well, so it went to Anthony. That was George Karl's story. Or, 'Melo's teammates wanted him to take the last shot, considering he had led the team with 27 points up until that point. That was Anthony's story, which he explains in the following video.
Either way, Carmelo did get the ball, took the shot and missed a three-pointer that would have won it for the West as time expired.
It was an exciting ending to a contest that was more than just a game -- it was an amazing experience that was special and intimate.
Even if it was one that was shared by more than 108,000 people.