LOS ANGELES-The most glorified basketball exhibition also known as the NBA All Star Game needed a boost to sell it as an actual competitive event and thus they changed the format and allowed for its two most popular stars to select the teams for this 67th mid season summit.
The fans got it half right when they voted LeBron James and Stephen Curry as team captains. LeBron showed up and showed out while Curry sat on the bench and ate popcorn before getting smothered on the last possession, forcing a panicked pass to the Raptors DeMar DeRozan for an unsuccessful Hail Mary fling at the buzzer in a 148-145 thriller at Staples Center.
It was much better than a year ago when the East and West teams combined for 374 points, but still players selected when they would go hard and when they would just take it easy.
LeBron and Russell Westbrook don’t really know any other way to play. Which is why they are clearly the best two players in the NBA.
So for the most part it was a win for the fans, the league and the Commissioner Adam Silver who dared make it a completive and purposeful affair. LeBron James won $350,000 for charity and Curry’s charity choice got $150,000.
LeBron selected After School All Stars-Los Angeles and Curry tabbed the Brotherhood Crusade, kids represented each organization from their program.
The new format attracted the largest household audience since 2013 on cable television; TNT reported that all of its platforms were up, including 101percent in video starts.
The live attendance was announced as a sellout, but the activity outside the arena was tame compared to other All Star events.
However, Los Angeles may be the most difficult place to sell even the NBA all-star game, especially during the start of the high school basketball playoffs that took the steam away from the Rising Stars Challenge and the Sam Dunk Contest. There are just so many things to do in Los Angeles, that seeing Jamie Foxx rap during pregame and observing another Kevin Hart routine as the stumbling announcer for the team line-ups was too much to absorb.
Fergie’s rendition of the national anthem was a head scratcher when the Lakers could have easily made a call to Jeffery Osborne. Any anthem not performed by the late Whitney Houston or the late Marvin Gaye during major sporting event is open for critique. Fergie wasn’t even as good as the Mater Dei High School student on Friday evening.
There was clearly only one star on this night among the stars of Hollywood, glitz and glamour and it was the Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James.
He was the reason why this all-star game was so important to the city of Los Angeles, especially so when neither the Lakers nor Clippers had a single player in the game.
In his 14th all star game LeBron won his third All Star MVP, almost recording a triple-double 29 points 10 rebounds and 8 assist, while legends Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Jerry West looked on.
Johnson and West can only imagine what LeBron could do for their franchises the Lakers and Clippers, not to mention raise Los Angeles from the basketball graveyard.
Los Angeles Times writer Bill Plaschke penned a piece encouraging LeBron to come to Los Angeles detailing that the roar and limelight he felt this night would be a regular thing if he decided to bring his talents to the City of Angels, but all of that speculation will have to wait another six months.
In the meantime LeBron has some unfinished business to do in his hometown with his new core teammates that has already raised eyebrows around the league with two key wins over Boston and OKC on the road.
“It’s just a good time to be alive, I can tell you that,” James said. “And play this game that I love, and also being able to have my family and my boys and my little girl, and to be able to see me doing what I’m doing at a high level right now and know what’s going on. So it’s pretty cool.”
For this day, LeBron James reigned King of Los Angeles, another epic moment during an iconic career, one that will be remembered for now and henceforth ever more in the annals of time.