The NBA’s 60th All-Star Game kicks off in a few hours in Los Angeles & it’s going to be an interesting mix. This year the Celtics & Heat, with a few selected outside friends, will take on the Western Conference in what I feel is the best superstar exhibition in sports. Baseball’s game can sometimes not have the exact matchup you want to see if a pitcher isn’t in the game yet & misses the best batter available (Halladay & Pujols had a combined 1 showdowns in ASG play until Doc ruined it & came to the NL to play with Albert). As for the Pro Bowl….we played better intramural football, with more contact, than they play in that game. And the NHL’s version of the ASG comes on Versus, a network where I’m sure Terrance & Phillip, of South Park fame, are the announcers.
So all the pressure falls on the NBA to give us a great product of it’s best stars going head to head. Where the most manufactured rivalry in sports (Kobe vs. LeBron) is rightfully contested, in the exhibition in was created in. Where there will be some And 1 mixtape-level plays from some of the best handlers in the game, and if were lucky, maybe the Carmelo drama will be decided & he gets traded at halftime and plays the second half for the East!
At any rate, predicting a winner in the ASG is pointless, so I’ll go with what I really want to see: unique matchups. Here are a few five man pairings I want to see Gregg Popovich & Doc Rivers run out after the starters have their go at it.
Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook & Chris Paul for the West as the “We May Throw an Oop From Anywhere” squad: This is the most athletic team the West can run out there, with two sprinters in the backcourt & a frontcourt that could dunk on the Statue of Liberty under the rim. Let get this going early in the 2nd quarter Pop.
LeBron James & the Celtics for the East: I like this squad for a few two simple reasons:
1) It could be the biggest freeze out job since Isiah took a young Jordan out the mix in ’85 & it would be hilarious to see LeBron’s reaction if he grabs a rebound.
2) Doc could take the race for the East #1 seed into their his own hands & put all four Celtics into the game at once and have them gang stomp LeBron as he’s by himself. That would set a great rematch chance for Vince McMahon to cash in on at WrestleMania next month.
Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol with Russell Westbrook for the West as the “We Are Old As Hell, Take Us Off the Court With This Young Fella” squad: This is far from Kobe, Duncan, Dirk or Pau’s first ASG rodeo, and while they’ll play the critical moments (if there are such a thing in these games), they probably won’t be going overly hard to prove anything. The same can’t be said for the dynamo that is Westbrook, who is in his first ASG & it’s back home where he made his college bones. It would be comedy to see Dirk & Duncan trying to get back up the court to play off of Westbrook as he gets his Usain Bolt on with each in bound pass.
LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh & Amare Stoudemire for the East as the “Weren’t We All Supposed to be Knicks By Now?” team:
This summer we all remember how somehow all 10 premier free agents were supposed to get max contracts and revive the Knicks to prominance they haven’t achieved since the 1970′s, yet are still expected to have? Yeah, well I guess 1 game is better than none & maybe they can borrow Carmelo for a minute and run some 6-on-4 to give Knick fans the full fantasy experience. Why not?
LeBron, Wade, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce & Ray Allen vs. Duncan, Kobe, Dirk, Paul & Gasol in the “We Are All Going to Springfield sooner or later” matchup: Seriously though, the All-Star game gives a great chance to see the historic greats matchup against each other. While some of these guys are already locks for the Hall of Fame, while others have more work to do, all 10 of these fellas have a more than likely chance of receiving a career’s greatest honor when they are done. Put them all out there at once & show the youngers that even though they are among the 24 best in the game now, they still have a ways to go before they are where these guys are.
My take on what pairings each side of the NBA All-Star game should run out today at least once. A splendid time guaranteed for most.