>Friday Lunch: NBA All-Star Game–Inception

Posted: February 4, 2011 in nba
Tags: , , , , ,


By Brent MacDonald

I went to the All-Star game last weekend; it was a hell of a time.


David Stern really out-did himself on this one. Cheerleaders from every team switching off during breaks? I thought my grandpa was about to have a heart attack in the seat next to me.


Usually the gramps refrains from attending NBA All-Star weekend with me, as his doctor has deemed them a ‘sleeping aid’. Luckily I’m not 70 years old yet, and have been able to stay awake through the sometimes-painful experience of all-star weekend.


But this year was different.

This year, LeBron James actually wanted to participate in the slam-dunk contest. Shannon Brown and Blake Griffin were the two other NBA players to join LeBron on a collaborative “Team NBA.”

The opposition? “Team Flight Brothers,” a group of dudes that get up higher than Snoop on a G6, and made their name by displaying acrobatic athleticism on courts around the world, gaining worldwide fame at the same time through millions of views on YouTube.


After a series of jaw-dropping jams, the two teams were tied going into the final round. Rather than each player’s individual dunk providing points to their team, the last completed dunk had to involve all three teammates. Team Flight Brothers went first.


A behind the backboard alley-oop led to a thunderous jam by the second teammate, which was followed by the third teammate jumping up and grabbing the ball out of the net in midair, only to windmill it back through the rim a split second later.


The crowd went wild. No one in the audience had seen something like it before, but the chatter soon settled as Team NBA took the court. Griffin lined up on the baseline at the other end of the court, LeBron stood at half-court, and Shannon Brown poised himself outside of the key at the other end. With Tom Brady-like form, Blake Griffin threw the ball from one hoop to the other and into the hands of a soaring Shannon Brown. Brown caught the ball well above the rim, and with his back to the basket slammed it off the backboard. We all watched as King James ran from the half-court circle, took off from the free throw line, and caught the ball halfway between the hoop and the charity stripe. As he caught the ball, he looked down at Shannon Brown in mid-air, said ‘Thanks B,’ and jammed it home.


It felt like a volcano erupting inside the stadium. I was showered with beer and popcorn. Needless to say, it was a great pick-up line for later that night. “Did you see the dunk contest this afternoon? Well let me tell you…”


The next day was the big event. The All-Star game. Just another meaningless assortment of the world’s best players playing the world’s worst basketball. No defense, no hustle, and embarrassing offense.


But this year was different.


The first half was played similarly to previous NBA All-Star games. Shaq played point, Kobe hit a few jumpers, and Dwight Howard pulled off a self-alley-oop over an emotion-less Tim Duncan.


But the second half, that’s when the TNT drama began.


The scoreboard was wiped clean. The coaches finally began to yell. Doc Rivers actually took off his suit coat for this one. Because this second half was a game in itself; NBA Finals home court advantage was on the line.


It was as vicious a battle as the all-star game has ever had. Pick & rolls with Kobe and Duncan…alley-oops from Derrick Rose to D-Wade…I thought I was watching a 3D game of NBA 2K11.



With less than 30 seconds remaining in the 24-minute second half, the West was down 64-62. Greg Popovich called a timeout, and the crowd rose to its feet. The energy in the arena made the air ten times hotter, and my heart was racing about 100 times faster. The facial expressions of LeBron, Dwight, Carmelo and Manu Ginobli made it obvious that this was to be no ordinary all-star game finish. This game actually had a meaningful outcome, and they were motivated to win.


The West inbounded and took possession with 22 seconds remaining. Chris Paul dribbled up the court, defended by Derrick Rose


LeBron knew what was coming next, that’s why he chose to guard Kobe.


Carmelo set the pick for KB on the low baseline. As Kobe stunted right and cut left, LeBron stayed right behind him. All of the sudden Kobe spinned around and ran the other way, LeBron tried to chase him down but was halted by a double screen set by Carmelo and Kevin Durant. Kobe got picked up by Dwyane Wade, but it was too late. He caught the pass from CP3 deep in the corner, rose up and released with just 4 seconds left.




Doc Rivers didn’t blink an eye. With no timeouts left, he yelled at LeBron to take the ball out of bounds. The clock read 2.9 seconds remaining. D-Wade caught the pass at the free throw line and dribbled straight at an awaiting Carmelo Anthony.


One spin move was all it took to get free and as he jumped into the air, his momentum carried him forward…it was as graceful a move as I have ever seen. Almost reminded me of Black Swan, without being freaked out for two hours.


Wade released his shot just in front of the half-court line, in a similar form to his game-winner against Chicago in 2009. The ball fell easily through the net as the horn sounded.


LeBron James rushed him. Derrick Rose looked like he’d seen a ghost. And Doc Rivers put his jacket back on, casually smiling as he shook Pop’s hand.


Yes, All-Star weekend was a great experience. Usually I’d rather sit through “It’s a Wonderful Life” with the gramps.


But this year was different.


This year, the old-timer wanted to see NBA All-Star weekend, “Where excitement [finally] happens.”

  1. […] Brent: Always appreciated your pieces, but even more so your videos. […]

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