All-Star weekend is upon us. The festivities kicked off Friday and conclude Sunday night with the All-Star game, which, surprisingly, doesn’t have a sponsor like all of the other events. This year, the game takes place in Los Angeles. That means that more celebrities than usual will be in attendance. But we know why you’re really turning in, it’s to watch the greatest players who aren’t named Ben Simmons compete on the second silliest stage in sports. (The NFL Pro Bowl is the silliest.) So, let’s take a look at what you can expect to see Sunday night.
To change things up this year, the NBA decided to forego the traditional East vs. West formatting that has been a staple of All-Star games since the days of the Philadelphia Sphas. (I’m actually not sure if basketball was played outside of the East Coast when the Sphas were draining set shots on the regular, but you get the idea.) Now, there are captains who choose what team the players play for, taking it back to a school yard tradition. Geographical biases are so blasé.
As you can guess, the two most popular players in the league were chosen as the two captains. With Isaiah Thomas just barely missing the cut, the captains are LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Cool. Makes sense. These guys are literally the marquee players of the NBA. Honestly, the All-Star game could be them playing a one-on-one game of 21 and people would still tune in. Actually, that sounds pretty dope. Can someone make that happen? Maybe during the next lockout? Oh, and it’s gotta be at Rucker Park. Maybe Dyckman. Anyway, I digress. Back to the All-Star game...
So, LeBron and Steph got to pick their teams and for some reason, in the year 2018, when the country is awash in social media, television programming, and the desire to OBEY and CONSUME, they picked their teams in secret. Like, LeBron literally had a TV special to tell us he was going to Miami in free agency. And we can’t have a dumb live show where they pick their All-Star teams that we can relentlessly mock/love on Twitter? That seems like a programming blunder on someone’s part (probably a baby boomer’s). Content is king, y’all! Feed us!
Before we get into the teams (yes, I’ll get there), let’s take a look at how players are selected to the game. This is where the NBA really gets things right. It lets the fans decide. Not a cabal of aging white sports writers, you, the person with takes so hot even pizza burns the top of its mouth when it sees them. But that’s why it’s great. Fans go on Twitter and tweet out a player’s name with the hashtag #NBAVote and boom. You voted. And you can vote as many times as you want. Yes, other people like players, coaches, and the league have a say in who gets in, too, but they don’t matter. This is what democracy looks like! And just like our great(?) democracy, people take to social media to WILDLY complain about who is leading in the votes. Pro-tip, y’all: it isn’t a big deal. You’re not the one with an All-Star clause in your contract. But hey, I get it. Fans gonna fan.
So, here are the teams:
LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, DeMarcus Cousins (injured), Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love (injured), Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis (injured), John Wall (injured), Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic, Kemba Walker
Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, James Harden, Al Horford, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns
Pretty good teams. If you notice, though, something stands out on LeBron’s team. Four of the guys he picked went down with injury after he selected them. Now, normally this is just a coincidence. NBA players get hurt. It’s a fact of the game. But this is too weird. You’d be right to assume something is suspicious but then you look and see that Kyrie is ON Team LeBron! Why would he hex his own team? The only thing I can think of is that maybe it’s some kind of Uncle Drew movie tie-in. I dunno. Just spit-balling here.
With Team LeBron hobbled from the get-go, things seem to favor Team Steph. But wait! This is the All-Star Game! Throw your predictions and your defense right out the window! Anything can happen.
And that’s the thing about the All-Star Game. Anything can happen because it’s silly. Like banana boat silly. It’s not about skill because all of the players are skilled. It’s not about winning the game’s MVP because who really cares about a Daytime Emmy? It’s about watching a bunch of players play fun, sloppy ball for three quarters before their competitive instincts take over in the fourth as scores inch closer to 200 points per side. Oh, and it’s also about money. A lot of money. This is America, after all.
Look, there’s sure to be something that you’ll see that you’ll remember forever. Some of the best All-Star memories I have involve Shaquille O’Neal because of course they do. The All-Star Game stage was built for Shaq’s goofiness. Remember his shoe phone? Classic. His intro with the JabbaWocKeeZ? Legendary. And the greatest moment ever? Steph hitting Dirk Nowitzki for the alley-oop dunk. GOAT! Do you remember who won those games? I know I don’t. And that’s the point.
The game is secondary to everything that goes on surrounding it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an exhibition. It doesn’t determine homecourt advantage in the Finals (the MLB is dumb for that). So, tune in. Watch the game with your friends. Make some memories that you’ll remember with them if the game can’t do it for you. Just remember to enjoy yourself and that you have something in common with Ben Simmons. Neither of you are All-Stars.
The game tips off Sunday at 7:00pm Central on TNT.