Reflections on the 2011 All-Star Game

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For the first three quarters of the All-Star game, the East and West were firing on all cylinders. They thundered back and forth across the court, sinking dunks and tossing crazy, risky three pointers.

And why not? The All-Star game isn’t about winning. It’s about showing off and having fun. That was what this whole, big, crazy weekend was about.

BALLnROLL had gone down to LA to see the fun up close, and we weren’t the only ones.

Dustin Hoffman showed up, as well as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Forest Whittaker, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Steven Tyler, Justin Bieber, Stevie Wonder and more.

 

 

 

 

The fun, laissez-faire spirit of the All-Star game had extended to the sidelines, with little quirky moments. In an interview, Hoffman jokingly declared himself rooting for both the East and the West, and Stevie Wonder sang happy birthday to Charles Barkley.

The top-tier talent headlining the event’s entertainment really seemed to be enjoying themselves too. While Melanie Fiona sang the Canadian national anthem, Josh Groban gave an effortless performance of the US National anthem.
 

And you know what? Say what you will about current-era Lenny Kravitz’s brand of generic rock, at least it has guitar solos. I respect him for trying to inject a little rock and roll into the proceedings. And it gave a sharp sound for the introductions of the players.

Equally sharp was the halftime show. It was great to hear Rihanna’s strong vocals without the heavy production her songs tend to have, and cameos from Drake and Kanye West kept things lively.
 

Rihanna looked great with a sparkle-heavy top and black Peter Pan skirt, and seeing Kanye West rise out of the back of the stage with dry ice pouring around him was nothing less than spectacular.

It was these little touches that made the 2011 All-Star game one of the quirkiest sports events we’ve been to.
 

For example, take Justin Bieber’s distracted, uncomfortable interview about the crossover move he used on Common during the NBA Celeb game. During the whole thing, Common tweeted his commentary, “It wasn’t that good of a move…Here we go again. Now they’re interviewing him!” Very funny stuff.
 

Equally funny was an interview with Carmelo Anthony about his upcoming trade situation, and Bryant butting in like a manager to say that Anthony wasn’t going to answer any questions .

It’s arguable to say whether or not that interview was appropriate, given that Anthony would likely rather focus on the game in progress.

And why wouldn’t he? The game in front of him was crackling with power, non-stop showing off, all offense and little defense.

That seemed to fit the East’s center Dwight Howard’s style that night. He gave a surprisingly fay introduction of his starting line-up, and all that elfin energy only foreshadowed a juggernaut performance.
 

And Kobe Bryant, well, what can you say about him? The game was another display of his immense talents. The man ended up with 37 points, only 9 points shy of matching Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star record.

That said, Bryant had assistance from a stellar team on the West, with Kevin Durant making some stunning breakaways
 

Meanwhile, you could feel the energy in the room change when Doc Rivers sent out the four Boston Celtics.

Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are, well, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, and they just kept showing everyone how solid they are.
 

Rajon Rondo’s supernatural to begin with, and matched with Kevin Garnett, the four really strove to bring the East back into the game.

On the West’s end of things, Carmelo Anthony was a workhorse, just getting things done all over, and really helping Bryant and Russell Westbrook in the West’s domination of the game over the first three quarters.

But this kind of fun, happy-go-lucky stuff was about to end.

The third quarter finished with the West winning 117 to 100, a pretty big gap. It was here that the game started to change.
 

It began with LeBron James’s frustration with the East’s performance.
 

Some Twitter feeds commented that maybe everyone was giving James’s shouting and speeches too much credit for getting the East back in the game.

Still, you can’t deny that the East started to catch up in a big way after his galvanizing show of energy.
 

This led to an extraordinary moment when James tried to chase Bryant all the way up to the net, and failed. But that need to win was for real. And it stuck.
 

In the fourth quarter, the East began to play for keeps, with some real attempts at defense and offense. After an incredible performance by Amar’e Stoudemire, the East had closed the gap to 2 points with a minute left in the game.
 

Was it here where they screwed up?

It’s hard to say. James fouled Bryant, letting Bryant widen that gap a little more with free throws.

Then, though Allen got a killer three-pointer in, Durant was fouled, and Durant doesn’t miss free throws.

Bryant took home his fourth All-Star MVP and the game ended at 148-142.

And you know what? We got to see some amazing performances from everyone, some fantastic dunks from LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin, a magnificent clutch effort from Ray Allen and Chris Bosh, an astonishing effort from Russell Westbrook, a great halftime show and some off-court shenanigans.

I’d say that’s what the All-Star game is all about, wouldn’t you? All in all, what an awesome event for BALLnROLL to be a part of!

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