Outta’ Right Field: NBA All-Star blues

By Ransom Cozzillio
February 28, 2012

Well, the NBA All-Star game has come and gone again. The second half of the notably abbreviated “lockout” season is here. It goes by so fast.

Unfortunately, rather than serving as an appropriately exciting intermission, this year’s All-Star Weekend was a fitting microcosm, a lowlight in this shortened, marathon of a season.

Playing 66 games in 120 days is an inhumane task, even for professional-class athletes. While the highlights may still come a mile-a-minute, ultimately, the athletes and, through them, the fans will suffer.

Ironically, it was sometime between what felt like LeBron’s eighth and ninth consecutive three-pointer I realized that this had been a wholly lackluster NBA weekend. Buried in the legitimately exciting almost-comeback by the Eastern Conference team was the fact that these players were and are exhausted.

LeBron James is an absolute freak of nature, the class of which we may have never seen in NBA history. As such, he is apparently unfazed by the insane, condensed schedule. He had a line of 36, 7 and 6. He is also having arguably the greatest statistical season in NBA history as I write this.

The young guns, running on young legs had little trouble keeping up. 23-year-old Kevin Durant had 36 and took home game MVP honors. He and fellow Oklahoma City Thunder player Russell Westbrook (also 23) have their young team positioned firmly atop the Western Conference.

Kobe Bryant passed Jordan as the all-time All-star scoring leader, once again stubbornly refusing, against all odds and even nature itself, to be affected by anything in his path to basketball immortality.

Pretty much everyone else, perennial greats like Dirk Nowitzki, on down the line, were just gassed. The exhaustion seemed to pervade other events as well. The biggest victim of exhaustion was the dunk contest.

Four unheralded, relatively unknown dunkers with little in the way of creativity or even, in some instances, dunking ability? Come on. Give me Blake, Dwight, Vince in his prime, Jordan. Give me the days when stars came to dunk and put on a show for the fans instead of this, where the elite performers are too worried about surviving their next back-to-back-to-back.

I am a maniacally obsessed basketball and NBA fan that is quite possibly reading way too much into the minutiae of what should have been a fun, star-studded weekend. Here comes the second half, so soon we shall see.

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Ransom Cozzillio

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