NEW ORLEANS – (Staff report from The Sports Xchange) -The 374 points combined by the West and the East teams in the 66th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night was an affront to matadors everywhere. It wasn’t just that the teams scored more points than in any previous All-Star Game. It was more that the 24 All-Stars, legitimately mindful of preserving their bodies for the meat-grinder of the rest of the regular season, seemed to relish looking the other way as another dribbler drove unimpeded to the basket.
“I would like to see it more competitive,” said West coach Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, who had four All-Stars in the game. “I’m not sure how to do it. It’s up to the players really. It would be good to possibly incentivize the guys somehow. I don’t know if you can maybe get their charities involved or a winner-take-all type thing, but I think it’s possible to play a lot harder without taking a charge.
“We know what silly is out there, if you’re undercutting guys, but it’s almost gone too far the other way where there’s just no resistance at all. I think there’s a happy medium in there somewhere.”
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who directed the East squad, participated in his first All-Star Game. While Stevens said he enjoyed his week of being around high achievers, he noticed the casual nature of the game could not be considered anything close to the hard-nosed basketball he learned growing up in Indiana.
“This game is about the players,” Stevens said. “This game is about letting them go out and show what they do best. Certainly, I think that, whether it’s from a timing standpoint, whatever the case may be, there were a few too many transition baskets allowed.
“I mean, we talked about trying to get back in it at the end and talked about how, obviously, the one way to do that is keep people in front of you. But it probably should have been a bigger emphasis in retrospect now.”
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving agreed with Kerr that pendulum has swung too far in the direction of offense.
“In an All-Star Game like this, guys aren’t trying to get hurt,” Irving said. “For me, I would love to play in a competitive game. I know we play in competitive games in the summer, in pickup games, but I think going forward the All-Star experience will probably get a little harder in terms of defense.”
Even New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, who set the All-Star scoring record with 52 points on 26-of-39 shooting from the floor, realized things may have to change, even though he was thrilled running the court against little resistance.
“It was definitely fun,” Davis said. “Of course, of this 52, 50 of them (were) dunks. I think you want to see defense. Of course, All-Star is about offense and giving the crowd a show. Nobody wants to go out here and get hurt. It’s all about fun. You probably need to do a few more incentives. I didn’t play any defense today. I was offensive-minded.”
Somewhere in Madrid, a matador is weeping, or worse, giggling.