Monson: NBA All-Stars should honor the game that makes them great

First Published      Last Updated Feb 21 2017 07:12 pm

NBA » The game has never been known for defense, but lack of real effort turned Sunday’s game into a bore

I don't dislike the NBA All-Star Game.

I hate it. I hate it for what it's become.

I watch it because it's a part of the job, but I can't stand it.

Not because it's a bad idea to honor basketball's best players. That's cool and all. Even if those pregame intros on Sunday were just a tad bit over the top, with each individual on the roster highlighted, and then the starters popping out of the floor like the demigods they seem to be. Not to mention the attendant music and Hollywood crowd on the edges of everything.

All of that adds to the hoopla, the vibe, the atmosphere. John Legend is a talented guy and his halftime performance was enjoyable … a lot more enjoyable than what happened before and after.

Ask yourself why you became a sports fan in the first place. Your main reason, I'm guessing, was wholly absent in New Orleans. We all became fans of sports because we loved the drama, the spectacle of competition, not the spectacle of the spectacle.

And that competition went missing from start to finish.

That's not exactly breaking news when it comes to NBA All-Star Games. They've often featured some of those missing pieces, all in the name of individualism and showmanship, tracing back to long before that moment when Kobe Bryant waved off Karl Malone's pick to allow his Kobe-ness to demonstrate the full range of his selfish abilities. We all know, it's been going on for years with many different players.

Sunday took that unfortunate phenomenon, a characteristic that killed any hint and all forms of competition, and fired it into hyperdrive.

Players were out there on the floor and on the bench, goofing and laughing, seeming to have a great time.

But it wasn't funny.

It was disrespectful to the game and even worse, it was … boring.

Nobody played defense, a fact that was no more evidenced in the final count — West 192, East 182 — than it was on every trip down the floor, when players simply moved out of the way to allow the next dunk. Here's the thing, though, there is no dunk that hasn't already been done. What makes a dunk — or any other great athletic play — memorable and extraordinary, what moves people to stand and applaud the spectacular, is when it is done straight in the face and force of an opposing accomplished athlete trying to stop it.

The fact that Anthony Davis rose up for slam dunks off alley-oops, completely uncontested, again and again and again, cheapened the play the first time and, especially, the 20th time. It's the resistance that makes such things special.

And there was no resistance.

Sunday's All-Star Game was like watching the Globetrotters take out the Generals. The only difference was nobody threw a bucket of confetti at anybody's head.

Gordon Hayward looked lost out there, even though he was trying to play along, trying to forget everything he had ever been taught to do on the court. Malone would have hated the whole thing. Gary Payton? Joe Dumars? Sidney Moncrief? Robert Parrish? Dennis Johnson? Ugh.

What would Rudy G. have done had he actually been selected to play in this mess, a contest in which there was peer pressure not to play any defense?

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