Recent NBA All-Star Games are usually followed by a few days of discussion about how to improve the All-Star Game and All-Star Weekend. Well, maybe they should play the game after the season. The USA Basketball scrimmage on Sunday night was the best NBA All-Star Game I've seen since Magic and Isiah turned up the heat for an incredible finish to the 1988 All-Star Game in Seattle. Remember that beauty? Ro Blackman hit two free throws with no time on the clock to send the game into OT. If you say you were too young to remember that one, then, well, screw you.
Back to the action in Las Vegas on Sunday. Jason Kidd and LeBron James led the White team, while Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony lit it up for the Blue team. There was plenty of fun for everyone, though.
- The White team led most of the way before Kobe Bryant hit a go ahead shot with six seconds to go. LeBron's answer clanked off the backboard letting the Blue escape with the win.
- Kobe made the game and showed that he could will USA Basketball to a gold medal if that is his focus. Kobe single-handedly turned up the intensity of the game by playing crazy D on several possessions while matched up against both Kidd and LeBron. His effort forced both to raise their game. I became convinced there were some heavy side bets on the line for the final outcome.
- Kidd looked rested and ready to lead, as well. He had several spectacular passes that weren't converted to assists simply because Dwight Howard and LeBron James aren't used to having the ball delivered on time when they don't appear open.
- Kevin Durant had a sensational stretch of playing time in the second half. His bench press numbers didn't seem to slow down his outside shot or interior moves. More than once, I thought he was a more seasoned pro and caught myself saying, "Wait a minute, that was Durant?" Plus, he knows how to play the game, passing, spacing, running the break, the little things. Durant more than held his own finishing with 22 points while playing down the stretch for the Blue team as they pulled out the win. Super Sonic indeed!
- Is Mike Miller always this good? Dude was fabulous for the White team (quit laughing, J.J. Reddick and Kirk Hinrich were on the Blue team). Miller was bombing away nicely which is expected, but he also mixed it up inside a bit and had a couple of sweet fast break finishing dunks. He sure would fit in nicely with Jim O'Brien's plans.
- The 17 player team has to be cut down to 12 for the late August Tournament of the Americas. Should be tough since guys like Deron Williams and Mike Miller appear to be solid contributors. Plus, all the bigs played great which included Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and even Tyson Chandler. Greg Oden will try to join the team late, but I can't see him cracking the 12 man roster at this point. Should be interesting.
- Yes, I'm aware that I have an unhealthy obsession with the NBA to get so excited about a USA Basketball scrimmage. But let me tell you, it was exciting even if you only have a mild obsession with the L. I have it on my DVR so come on over any time. Odds are me or the boy will be watching the game, again.