When I was the NBA’s lead broadcaster on CBS I was part of nine All-Star weekends.
My assignment was Sunday’s All-Star Game. Saturday was the special events feature of the weekend: the slam dunk contest, 3-point shooting battle etc. That was the appetizer to the actual game and the whole shebang was pure entertainment.
The All-Star Game itself was an interesting study in approach. The stars from the East and West, and their coaches earnestly wanted to win the game. At the same time, it was critical that everyone had their share of minutes played. What was really fascinating was the players desire to be unselfish, often over-doing it, passing up easy shots to allow one of their teammates to score.
Defense was certainly not the name of the NBA All-Star Game, but playing the role of matador was not so obvious.
Which brings us to this year’s affair in Toronto. The Western Conference scored 196 points, 33 more than the most points ever scored by the winning team, which by the way was the winning score the past two years. The losing total of 173 by the East was, of course, more than the winners ever scored.
I think it was great. It’s what the weekend is all about. See the Stars come out to shine. Put on a show. Add to that, Kobe Bryant’s farewell, handled in a first-class fashion by everyone involved including Kobe himself.
And the Saturday appetizer was a lot more than that. The 3-point shootout featuring who else, the Golden State Warriors sharpshooters, and the revival of the slam-dunk extravaganza which reached (no pun intended) new heights.
The NBA has evolved over the years. Yours truly was fortunate to have presided during the magical 80’s. I still think the memorable, stunning rendition of the National Anthem by Marvin Gaye in 1983 just may be the top moment of any All-Star weekend I remember.
Apart from that, today’s sensational mid-season celebration, is a tour de force.