I have been and always be a huge fan of the NBA. There have been some changes that have come down the pipe like an earlier start to the season and draft lottery reform. Now the All-Star game will have a new look the next time it’s played.
— 2020 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) October 3, 2017
The days of East vs. West will be a thing of the past when the 67th All-Star Game tips off on Feb. 18, 2018 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. To be fair the game had become a little hard to watch the last couple of years because, even though it is an exhibition, there was absolutely zero defense being played. The games hadn’t been close in the final minutes and this had even caused those intense fourth quarter minutes, where guys went hard, to disappear.
Now the contest will have a definite pickup, playground feel as the leading vote getters from each conference (LeBron James and Steph Curry, last year) will be named captains and pick their respective teams. The game will also be for a good cause as each team will select and play for a Los Angeles area charity and that’s always a good thing.
Obviously there will be a lot of differences but I still think it will turn out to be a very exciting and entertaining event. Yet, I just can’t help but wonder how this would have played out back in the day. In the 1985 All-Star Game Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas allegedly “froze out” a young Michael Jordan in his first All-Star appearance in Indianapolis in 1985.
Magic and Michael were the leading vote getters from 1986-88. Is there any question as to whose team Isiah Thomas would have been on in both of those years? Magic’s squad would be point guard heavy to say the least. It would have also been interesting to see tensions build between guys who thought they should have been picked sooner than they were (kind of like how guys get upset about their NBA 2K rankings today). There is a lot more fraternization now than there was back in the day, (Russell Westbrook is the old school exception to this rule) so there may not be a lot of beef after this year’s selections are made.
Fast forward to the 1996 game in San Antonio which is the source of my most memorable All-Star moment (Glen Rice scoring 20 points in a quarter the following year in Cleveland is my second favorite).
The leading vote getters in 1996 were Charles Barkley for the West and Grant Hill (who ironically made the pass that led to Shaq’s dunk) for the East. Had they been picking their own teams then would Shaq and The Admiral have been teammates? The world will never know but it is fun to speculate about it.
How will the 2018 game play out? Will someone supplant LeBron as the leading vote getter in the East? Will it be Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard or Steph Curry in the West?
We will have the answers in a few short months and will have fun watching the action from Staples in February.