First, the NBA All-Star draft definitely should have been televised.
Don’t talk to me about hurt feelings. The final player selected would have no choice but to get over it. Someone must be last when captains pick squads on the playground; besides, it’s better than not being chosen at all.
Considering how Stephen Curry had the penultimate selection in Thursday’s draft, I figure either Kevin Love or Kyle Lowry was left to become LeBron James’ “Mr. Irrelevant.”
Accused of being a shadow GM in Cleveland, James might have a future in the position. The consensus is he made Curry look like Ernie Grunfeld. In an era where increasingly shorter players are used to spread the floor, James will turn the notion upside down with his starting lineup.
His frontcourt measures 6-foot-9 (Kevin Durant), 6-foot-10 (Anthony Davis) and
6-foot-11 (DeMarcus Cousins) 6-foot-9 (Paul George).
Welcome to Tall Ball.
The order was supposed to be kept secret, but Durant revealed he was the first pick. “It’s definitely humbling,” he told reporters Thursday after posting a triple-double against Minnesota. “You get respect from your peers. That’s all you want, and I feel like I’ve been earning that respect my whole career.”
While admiration for Durant has grown steadily since the DMV product left for Texas, the All-Star Game has lost steam and esteem over the last few years.
The players used to be in full exhibition mode – feigned defense only, please – for three quarters. But their competitive juices would flow over the final 12 minutes in an all-out effort to, you know, win the game. The blatant lack of ambition in recent contests ultimately led to the revamped format.
Too bad most of the specialness was sapped by concealing the process.
Mixing up the teams adds a nice little twist, but even that fell a bit short. John Wall and Bradley Beal are on the same side. Ditto for Cleveland teammates James and Love. Curry drafted fellow Golden State players Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.
Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen has added to the level of excitement and intrigue. But I’m not certain it will change the dynamic.
Players want to have a good time and entertain the audience. They don’t want to be embarrassed on the perimeter, or posterized at the rim. So they enter into an unspoken agreement: “I’ll let you do your thing and you let me do mine.”
That’s fine for three quarters.
But if there’s no change down the stretch, changing the format was for naught.