What we saw in last night's NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles was what I expect to see in every all-star contest: breath-taking plays, uptempo action, and in the fourth quarter an attempt to have a competitive game.
We went 3-for-3 last night, and although the Kobe dunk over LeBron was dope but overrated, (look, he had to dunk it fast or Bron was sending that ball over to Bieber) LeBron fullbacking to the lane, Durant redeeming himself from that lackluster performance in the three-point shootout, (a 6 KD? Damn....even Boobie got 7!) almost 300 points scored, and the East comeback that made the 4th-quarter quite compelling.
However, there will never be anything close to the 2001 NBA All-Star game, also known as the greatest All-Star game ever played.
Its fitting that this is the 10-year anniversary of the '01 game, and when I was watching the game with the kids last night (Jeremy, Chuck, and Ed decided to mentor the kids WHILE watching All-Star...its called multi-tasking) I kept comparing the game to 2001. I know its not fair, but I can't help it.
The 50th edition of the NBA All-Star game was held in Chocolate City aka the Nation's Capital, which is astounding within itself that all of the players were alive and willing to actually go out and play a basketball game. If you don't remember the '01 All-Star game, here are a couple of the key takeaways going into the game.
- The West was supremely loaded in 2001. With a starting lineup of Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Chris Webber, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal, they were bigger, faster, stronger, and immensely more talented in the East. Moreover, Shaq was injured in '01, so who did the West replace Shaq with? Kevin Garnett. It was perceived that the East had no chance, why?
- Because the East was horrible. Okay, horrible is probably a tad too strong. However, the East's starting lineup consisted of Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Grant Hill, and Alonzo Mourning. Sure, the East had three superb wings, but they had nothing for the West's size. Moreover, Alonzo and Grant Hill were injured, which gave us the two worst All-Star starters of all-time in...
- Anthony Davis and Anthony Mason, the worst All-Star starters of all-time. (With exception to Jamaal Magloire in 2004)
Here's the thing though, for whatever reason I've always rooted for the East. Maybe its because of the Lakers being really good and my disdain for the Lakers, but I've always thought that the talent in the West was way better. So watching this East squad being led by Iverson, McGrady, and the late-great Stephon Marbury didn't inspire me that the East would be able to pull this out.
For three quarters, I was right.
In a game where we saw AI show us the creative excellence of a Hardwood Houdini, Vince Carter give us a reminder of the 2000 Slam Dunk contest, KG catch about 22 alley-oops, Kobe hit ridiculous jumper after ridiculous jumper, the West was essentially beating the brakes off the East.
The West was up 95-74 with nine minutes left to go in the game, I almost turned the game off and went outside to hoop. What transpired was one of the greatest comebacks I've ever seen in my life.
Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury decided that the East would not lose the game.
A.I. started attacking the rim with reckless abandon, Marbury started raining threes, and the comeback was on. I kept thinking that the West would pull it together and squash the East at the end, however Eastern Conference head coach Larry Brown made the best coaching move of the night, and brought in the the closer...Dikembe Mutombo.
Mutombo was the only one who could nullify all of the West's height. Mutombo started throwing random elbows, wagging the finger, and grabbing boards like his life depended on it. Once Mount Mutombo got the defense on lock, Iverson and Marbury took care of the rest.
Iverson got 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to lock in his first All-Star MVP. Marbury's dagger threes in response to Kobe's two killer jumpers on the other end made for an epic back and forth that I can't ever remember experiencing. Marbury, along with Iverson, won that game for the East because they were the only two scorers on the squad that wasn't afraid of the West. That's why we'll always love Iverson and Marbury, and that's the reason why we'll tell the younger generation that these two were phenomenal when they played. Because they had no fear.
The West still had a chance to win the game, and Kobe did the one thing we never expect him to do at the end the game...he passed the ball. Tim Duncan missed the game-winner, and the East defeated the West 111 to 110.
The old folks sometimes say things like, "They don't make 'em like they used to" and in this case, they're right. There might not be another All-Star game like 2001, but I'll wait in front of the TV next year hoping there will be.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!