NBA All-Star Game 2017
Sunday 19th Feb. 8 p.m. ET, Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana
For many one of the most anticipated event in sport is right around the corner, with both mixture of entertainment and one of the best players in the world stepping on the pitch to show what are they capable of. First, let’s touch some history behind the All-Star Game.
The starts of NBA All-Star Game are quite interesting and unknown to most of the population. It all started with a meeting between NBA president Maurice Podoloff, Haskell Cohen (NBA publicity director) and Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown. At that time, basketball world took a hit with the college basketball point-shaving scandal. To regain public attention, Cohen suggested league should host an exhibition match with the best players in the league, similar as Major League Basketball’s All-Star Game, which was firstly inaugurated in 1933. Despite some people not believing in its success, Brown supported the idea to the extend he even offered to host it and pay all the expenses if there were potentially any losses. As it is clear by now it was a great decision and by now many people, me included highly anticipate the NBA All-Star game every year.
All-Star game goes way back to March 2nd 1951 in Boston where it was first staged and it has become a yearly event ever since. In the game we will see players from Eastern conference taking on their “arch rivals” Western conference players. Each conference roster consists of 12 players, thus we will see 24 players in total. The voting for which players appear in the All-Star game is divided into 2 parts. The starting line-up is chosen by fan ballot, whereas reserves are picked by head coaches from each squad, but they are not allowed to vote for players from their teams.
Choosing the head coach for the All-Star game comes down to team’s record. Coaches from top 2 teams from each Conference are chosen to lead their conference, with an exception which does not allow repeat appearances, known as “Riley Rule”. For NBA fans, the name “Riley Rule” might seem extremely similar to the name of a well known head coach Pat Riley and there is a reason for that. This rule was created due to Pat Riley taking the head coach spot 8 times in 9 seasons between years 1892-1990, when he was leading LA Lakers. Since then we will not see the same coach in 2 consecutive All-Star games, but instead the coach of the team with 2nd best record is chosen instead.
Currently, Eastern Conference is leading in wins, with 37:28. Despite being an exhibition match and having no effect on the league, it is an important game nevertheless. At least from the rivalry point of view and of course bragging rights.
This year’s All Star Game will be held at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, with next year’s location already being known, and that is Staples Center, Los Angeles California.
Now for the players who will represent their conference:
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)||Paul George (Indiana Pacers)|
|LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)||Kevin Love* replaced by Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) due to injury|
|Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)||Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)|
|DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)||Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks)|
|Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)||Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics)|
|Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)|
|John Wall (Washington Wizards)|
HEAD COACH: Brad Stevens (Celtics)
|Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)||DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)|
|Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)||Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)|
|Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)||Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)|
|Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)||Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)|
|James Harden (Houston Rockets)||DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)|
|Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)|
|Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)|
HEAD COACH: Steve Kerr (Warriors)
At first glance of the roster, there is something odd, isn’t it? Westbrook, top scorer in the NBA was not voted to start the game. Weirdly enough, he was ranked 3rd by the fans, on the other side, he was ranked 1st by players and media. Still, he does not seem to be affected by the decision.
He stated: “It is what it is. That’s the nature of the business, the game. I just play. I don’t play for All-Star bids. I play to win championships, and every night I compete at a high level, and it’ll work out.” “I just continue doing what I’m doing and play the game the right way, and everything else will work out.” He is not starting, but he was chosen by the coaches to be in reserves, so we will see him on the court.
There is one more thing I feel as I need to mention regarding the upcoming match. The departure of Kevin Durant to Golden State Warriors was surely one of the main topics of the summer transfers and it stir up some drama. As it was expected, many fans of Oklahoma City Thunder did not like the decision Durant made, which was clearly seen in the last matchup between Oklahoma City and Golden State. In that match we could see many posters, T-shirts and hear chants “cupcake” whenever Durant got the ball. For everyone not familiar with the story behind the “cupcake” I’ll sum it up.
When Westbrook and Durant played together, Kendrick Perkins used term “cupcake” for his teammates who were “soft”, thus making it a joke between Durant and Westbrook. After Durant’s transfer, fans were waiting for Westbrook to say something, but he stayed quiet. That is until he posted a picture on instagram ( https://www.instagram.com/p/BHcsHe1A3Js ) on 4th of July, which was clearly meant for Durant. Since the story behind the cupcakes is out, Oklahoma City fans adopted the term and we can be sure it will be used for quite some time, or at least until all this cools down.
The reason why I mentioned this, is the fact that Westbrook and Durant will have to play together in team West. Will we see more arguing, or will they settle their differences for 1 night is yet to be seen, but I do expect them to be professional about it and play together as they used to back in the day.
The NBA All-Star Game is always a treat to watch and drama like that only makes it more interesting. With that said it’s a event you shouldn’t miss. For everyone deciding about buying a ticket, prices are going down and they range from around $200 up to $2700 (the prices may differ, depending on the seller). If you decided to watch it from home, get your popcorn ready, take a day off, relax and enjoy one of the best sport events in the world on 19th of February 8p.m. ET.