After an action packed weekend in Los Angeles, the dust has finally settled from the frenzy of activity and the NBA will resume the second half of the season. It was an all-around entertaining display, centered on superstars and their phenomenal talents, but it reminded us that it is, simply, what is: an exhibition.
Although, not much excitement surrounded the four players from the Celtics, I think we can all agree that Justin Bieber stole the show over the weekend… Not really. It is difficult to classify an all-star weekend as an overly successful event, when he and his hair were one of the greatest attractions, but, all in all, it achieved its main goal of entertaining the masses (even if the majority of those masses were crazed, screaming, teenage girls).
The height of the attention for the Boston stars was mostly focused around the three-point contest, where the defending champion, Paul Pierce, faced Ray Allen in a head-to-head battle for long range supremacy. Both reached the finals of the competition, with Ray Allen scorching the nets in an impressive first-round display. Neither, unfortunately, was able to capture the title. James Jones of the Miami Heat barely edged out Ray Allen and earned that honor.
The dunk contest was an interesting demonstration of athleticism and showmanship. Blake Griffin awed the crowd and managed to grab the trophy for the event, jumping over a car to clinch the contest in the final round. There was a bit of a debate surrounding this decision, though, as some people believed that fellow competitor, JeVale McGee was more deserving, who amazingly dunked two basketballs on two different baskets simultaneously.
The actual All-Star game was not all that interesting for Boston sports fans who were hoping to see the four stars in action. Their playing time was restricted by coach Doc Rivers, something that was anticipated prior to the game being played. The younger players got a lot more minutes, which is fine by me, considering this game means absolutely nothing.
Some familiar Celtic foes dominated the all-star game. Kobe Bryant seemed like he was on an individual mission to take the MVP trophy home in his home town, scoring 37 points. He launched 26 shots in his performance and helped the West squad squeak out a victory.
On the East side, LeBron James recorded only the second triple double in NBA All-Star game history, and his efforts allowed for a compelling fourth quarter finish after a mostly pedestrian first three quarters of play. Rondo, Allen, Garnett and Pierce struggled to find any rhythm and didn’t contribute very much production. In truth, the most entertaining part of their presence was being booed by the affectionate L.A. crowd upon being inserted into the game.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the results. Rest up the Celtic stars and let Kobe and LeBron gain their recognition and accolades in February. It was a good game plan. Doc Rivers and the rest of the team understand that the real rewards will be captured in June.
The festivities are over, and now we can return to real basketball. So, as the rest of the team travels out west to join the four Celtic all-stars to begin another important road trip; the team focus remains the same. It’s the same aspiration that was at hand at the start of the season.
All-star games are great, and it’s a great sense of accomplishment and validation to be recognized for all the hard work and effort. But, let’s face it. Nothing compares to an NBA Championship, and the Celtics have a great shot at raising their 18th banner to the TD Banknorth Garden’s rafters. And that’s something actually worth celebrating.