February is the time of year to celebrate Black History Month for the proud accomplishments of African-Americans. Valentine’s Day you celebrate with a certain someone. For NBA fans February is the time to celebrate the league’s annual All Star Game.
It’s a tradition that’s been around for 60 years and has progressed with time. The All Star Game is just part of a weekend’s worth of events, in which the NBA gives back to its fans through a combination of events both on the court and off of it.
NBA All Star Weekend features three nights worth of entertainment, with a rookie and sophomore game headlining Friday night, as well as a celebrity game slated for the same day.
Saturday features a slam dunk competition and three point shootout which draw attention on the eve of the All Star Game.
The game this year features a collection of the best talent and athletes the NBA has to offer, and an opportunity for the league’s fans to vote in the starters for the Western and Eastern Conference lineups weeks in advance. From there the coaches are selected, choosing the reserve players they feel are most deserving and worthy of participating.
The West lineup features a number of talented veterans and new comers, including Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, the Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin and new teammate Chris Paul, and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant.
Reserves include reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love and Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge
The Eastern Conference, which happens to be the home team since All Star Weekend will be hosted in Orlando, features an athletic and skilled line up including Miami Heat superstars Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Last year the game was played in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant took home the honors, scoring 37 points and leading the Western Conference to a narrow victory. This year may prove different, as the East will be seeking revenge led by their star lineup.
The Miami Heat has all three of its superstars represented with Chris Bosh landing a reserve role. There are plenty of first timers getting their chance in the limelight this year though.
Luol Deng, starting forward for the Chicago Bulls, has played in the league for eight seasons, earning his chance to play in the league’s most celebrated game for the first time. Bynum and Aldridge are also well deserving of their opportunity to participate in the weekend’s festivities.
For others this time of year is formulaic, as Boston Celtics forward and Captain Paul Pierce suits up for his tenth All Star Game. Bryant is getting his 14th start in the All Star, and Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash will come off the bench as a reserve at the tender age of 38.
This weekend’s festivities are shaping up to be one of the biggest in recent memory.
While the games are usually fun and not the most physical, bragging rights from each conference are on the line. When the game is close in the 4th quarter, look for the teams to turn up the heat, and all of the players to compete at the highest level. This is what makes the All Star game one of more fun sporting events of the year.
For now I’ll stick to a simple prediction of an Eastern Conference victory, 131-124 with hometown favorite Dwight Howard getting the game’s most valuable honors.