Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/17/14

It is, by far, the best All-Star game.  There’s no question.

First off, it’s a whole weekend.  And yeah, most of the weekend is ehh, but compared to the other ASGs, it’s not completely un-watchable.

Alright, not starting off too strong, but hear me out.

Even the worst parts of the weekend can be enjoyed:

The three point contest is semi-cool.  It’s a world wonder to see how many threes one can drain in a row.  I mean, the three point line is 23ish feet away from a springy hoop that’s 18 inches wide.  Although it may not be exciting, it’s impressive.

In 1991, Craig Hodges drained 19 trey-bombs in a row, capping a night drizzled in sharp shooting to the Nth degree.  It would take an otherworldly amount of luck for me to even hit back to back to back.  Four?  Never.  Nineteen?  I might be able to make 19 lay-ups in a row, but I’d probably lose concentration around 12 and clank it off the back iron.

The celebrity game is okay.  Beiber was entertaining last year, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan lit up the stat line this year with a 17-8-5 (but no, of course I didn’t watch it).

The dunk contest. Oh, the dunk contest.  Everybody hates it, but really, it’s an awesome bout that’s just been wholly saturated by every move that a human being, with its current genetics and athletic capabilities, can make.  Athletes’ diets and training programs these days have put them in the most unimaginable shape, especially taking into account all the forward progress we’ve made over the last twenty years.  Watch a dunk contest from the 80s... although they are classic, they’re just not athletically close to what’s going on today.

Because, as in most things in life, there is a bell curve (or at least half of one).  In the past two decades, we’ve made enormous leaps in athleticism, but humans can’t just keep jumping higher and higher and higher.  There has to be a stopping point, or at least a point where skills level out, and then maybe keeps going up once more advances in the above sciences are made.  The current group of athletes’ peak is probably Dwight’s Superman dunk, and that may be the ceiling for the next decade.

And we can’t blame the mega-stars for only showing up for a year or two.  Yes, it sucks that LeBron’s never contributed.  Why does he slam down 11 insane dunks in an All-Star game, but not try his hand in the Dunk Contest?  His chances for getting hurt, if that’s a worry, are so much higher in the ASG versus the Dunk Contest, which also looks nothing close to energy-zapping.

His case, specifically, is extra lame.  But as we’ve learned over the last nine years, every time LeBron has to make a choice, he always makes the wrong Decision.

(Ah thank you. More on this in a moment.)

I mean, imagine a dunk contest with Dwight, LeBron, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan.  Move over Adele.  That will be your performance of the year.

Now let’s drop the side-events and get to the The All-Star Game.

So why is this game cool?

Athletes.

Insanely talented athletes.  People complain about them not playing defense... but really, after hearing some of the “wired” sounds from LeBron and company, they do play a little defense... well, at least communicate about defense.

And!  And!  At last night’s game, in the last two minutes, the Amway Arena gave a slightly above average “DEFENSE!” chant on one of the West’s final possessions.  Yes, it was more ripple effect than actual evidence, but when it comes down to it, who really wants defense in this game anyway?

Yeah, sure, if it’s close in the end, let’s clamp down, but for one night a year, I’ll watch the greatest athletes do their high flying thang for 48 minutes.

So why is it better than other sport’s All-Star games?

It’s personal.  Bros bouncing off bros, getting close, getting physical, talkin’ trash.  There’s no other sport with this level of intimacy.  Baseball players never get close to each other, unless it’s a photo-finish at the plate (doesn’t happen in ASGs).  Football players are very close to each other, but they wear pads, so we can’t gauge expressions or body language.  Hockey is the same way... and the best part of hockey is the fighting and hits, which are at a minimum during their ASG.

There’s usually no competitiveness to cling to during these games, but basketball can at least personally connect us to the game, identify us with some of the guys.

So what happened in crunch time last night?

I’m so glad you asked!  The most awesome of things happened!

LeBron, with a last-possession chance to will the East squad to victory, down two with twenty-five seconds left, PASSED (of course) to Deron Williams for a missed three, and then, with another chance from an offensive rebound, TURNED THE BALL OVER on a moronic cross-court pass, when he had a chance TO OUTDUEL KOBE ONE-V-ONE.

Music to my ears.

Then, on the actual last second possession, when the East still only needed a three to tie, post a Griffin free throw make, Thibs makes LeBron INBOUND THE BALL.

!

As in, “Hey LeBron, you defer so much, that I’m actually going to make you, the best basketball player on the planet, in-bounds the ball so you don’t try to pass it within the last 1.1 seconds left in the game, and yes, of course this a slightly immature eff-you for last year’s Conference Finals.”

Delicious.  Loved it.  Put him in his place, Thibs.  Oh, and the East ended up losing, metaphorically and physically symbolizing all that is LeBron’s career.

So how could anybody say last night was not entertaining?

I really can’t defend any other sport’s ASG, but the NBA specifically takes its best quality (after its competitiveness), which is freak athleticism, and puts it on display for the whole world to watch.  The best passers and ball-handlers in the league dishing to the greatest scorers and finishers in the league really doesn’t sound too horrible to me.

And c’mon, find me a sports fan who would walk into their local gym and show up to the tune of 24 All-Star ballers playing a glorified pick-up game, and actually say “Nah, I’m good.  Let’s go find another gym.”

Not happening.

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