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You'll Always Remember Your First Time: All-Star Reserves

The NBA All-Star Game is something that’s been a staple in my life since I was around nine years old. The best players would all come together during the weekend for the Stay in School Jam (whatchu know about early Saturday mornings during All-Star weekends past???) the three-point shootout, and the dunk contest. The highlight, for me anyway, has always been the game. Nearly 20 years later, that hasn’t changed a bit. The names on the backs of the jerseys are different, but as long as the front of ‘em say “East” and “West,” I’m happy and ready to see something I haven’t seen before.

However, this year had a chance of truly ruining that. See, in those days, I was too young to know what an all-star snub was. As far I was concerned, if you had Jordan, Magic, Pippen, Barkley, and the rest of the well-known names, that’s all that mattered. As I’ve gotten older, I still wanna see the marquee names, but it’s also become important to see people who may not be household names, but still have had a great season, and are known by true basketball fans. This year, seven players are first-time All Stars, and it’s safe to say some of these are overdue.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls – I don’t know what happened with the Bulls, because for a minute there, it looked like they were ready to pack it in this season, but the one player who never has to worry about his desire being questioned is Derrick Rose (well...Joakim Noah, too). I’m surprised he made it, but it’s a pleasant surprise. He’ll have to pull double-duty in Dallas, since he’ll be in the Rookie Game as well, but I imagine he’s not trippin’ off it at all.

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics – There’s no denying Rondo belongs on the all-star team this year. He’s had plenty of detractors over time, but even the ones who’ve been critical have to give the man his due. He’s shown he’s much more than just another guy, and that’s evidenced from his monstrous playoff performance last season, to his work so far this year. He’s averaging damn near a double-double, shooting over 50% from the field, and has cut down his turnovers. This spot is well-deserved.

Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks – I have to admit that this is the pick that completely baffles me. No disrespect to Horford, but if there was going to be another Hawk not named Joe Johnson on the team, I would have put my savings on Josh Smith. This pick totally blindsides me. It reminds me of the year that Jamaal Magloire made the team. He had a good season, but I was convinced he made it for two reasons: one, because his team was playing well, and two, because the East needed a back-up center. The same applies in this case as well.

Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats – It’s been a long time coming for Gerald Wallace, and that’s even more reason why I’m happy to see him get his shine on. The Bobcats are playing well, and when you’re playing well, people all of a sudden act like you become an All-Star player overnight. Wallace has been playing at the level for a while now, but since the Bobcats weren’t worth a damn before, folks didn’t give him his due. He’s a double-double machine, good defender, and great around the basket. My hope is whoever coaches the team lets him play a lot, so folks who haven’t seen him will get a chance to see what basketball heads have known for a long, long time.

Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies – Anyone who has followed Zach Randolph knows he’s always been good. Part of the reason he’s never made the team is because he’s had trouble staying healthy, and because he has a reputation of being a head case. He’s always been able to score and rebound, but now that he’s pretty much the elder statesman on this young team, folks are giving him his due. He’s averaging 20-10, and has the Memphis *bleeping* Grizzlies in the playoff hunt. If you told me this would be the case at the start of the season, I woulda told you to shoot yourself.

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder – Let some people tell it, Durant’s already a superstar. He’s right near the top of league leaders in scoring, and does it in so many ways that it’s beyond imaginable. He’s pretty much unguardable, and putting him on the line isn’t much of a difference, since he shoots a high free throw percentage. On top of that, the Oklahoma City Thunder are right in the thick of things in the Wild, Wild West.

Deron Williams, Utah Jazz – Simply put, it’s ABOUT...DAMN...TIME. I’ve heard plenty of arguments as to why he hasn’t made an all-star team until now, and I’ll admit a majority of them are true. Sure, there are a lot of good-to-great point guards in the West. Sure, he plays in Utah, but it still doesn’t make it right. If he didn’t make the team this year, I was prepared to boycott the whole damn weekend, because it would have been a travesty and a disgrace in its highest form. I’ve already made the claim that I believe he is the best point guard in the NBA, and to this day, my view hasn’t changed one bit. He’s the engine for the Utah Jazz, and he’s as valuable to his team as a majority of players in the NBA, and if you don’t believe me, then watch a Jazz game, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Be easy.
-K. Masenda


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