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2010 NBA All-Star Game – Game Opinion Review / State of the League

Posted on February 15, 2010 by Chris Kent
NBA All Star Game

Dwyane Wade was the MVP of a super-sized All-Star Game.

The 2010 NBA All-Star Game told us a lot. First, pro basketball has a huge fan appeal that is Texas-sized! We can thank two of the most visible and dynamic owners of professional sports franchises for that as Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban made much of this event possible in a plush new stadium that is less than a year old.

According to TNT NBA Anchor Ernie Johnson, a Guinness Book of World Records for attendance at a basketball game was set with 108,713 people attending the game at Cowboys’ Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Feb. 14.

Second, after trailing throughout most of the game, the world’s greatest collection of athletes proved that coming from behind is no big deal if none at all as the West refused to let the East pull away.

Third, we are seeing a changing of the guard in terms of the best-of-the-best players in the NBA as we enter a new decade. The good news here for basketball fans is that the best players in the league are still very young and while many are veterans, they are in their prime or just reaching it.

In football, it is said that many players need four years to develop to become an all-pro caliber and championship player. The speed of the game is faster and some differences in rules between the college and pro game factor into that. The same can be said in basketball give a year or two shorter or longer. There is also a learning curve with things like the pick-and-roll, help side defense, and clock management.

This year’s all-star game, won by the East 141-139, showed how the NBA has been built over the last five-to-seven years during which many of today’s marquee players have entered the league.

LeBron James was the first pick in the amazing 2003 NBA Draft.

LeBron James was the first pick in the amazing 2003 NBA Draft.

Start with the NBA draft and look no further than the class of 2003. Lebron James was the top overall pick out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carmelo Anthony was selected third overall by the Denver Nuggets, Chris Bosh was taken fourth by the Toronto Raptors, and Dwyane Wade was taken fifth overall by the Miami Heat.

While those four players have made the biggest impact from the class of 2003, that draft also produced starters or serviceable players like Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, T.J. Ford, Josh Howard, and Leandro Barbosa who have all helped their teams, many in a starting role that they still have today.

However, it is the quartet of James, Anthony, Bosh and Wade who have taken the league by storm, becoming some of the marquee players in the game today.

James has emerged as arguably the best player in the league and has one NBA regular season Most Valuable Player to his credit along with one NBA Finals appearance.

Anthony, who led Syracuse to the school’s first and only NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship as a freshman in 2003, has been a franchise player the Nuggets have built around. Anthony has been among the league’s top scorers the last couple of seasons and lead Denver to the Western Conference finals last year. In the process, Anthony guided Denver to its’ first playoff series victory since 1994 when Denver became the first eighth seed to ever knock off a one seed with a 3-2 series win over Seattle.

Bosh has been an all-star player for the Toronto Raptors.

Wade is one of the most athletically gifted guards who can break opponents down one-on-one and create his own shot. He can also electrify crowds with his dunks. Wade lead Marquette to The NCAA Final Four in 2003 and was named the 2006 NBA Finals MVP after helping Miami win the championship that year. He also was named this year’s MVP of the All-Star game after scoring a game-high 28 points and dishing out 11 assists. Wade shot 12-for-16 from the field, good for 75 percent.

Oscar Robertson was one of the NBA stars of the 1960s.

Oscar Robertson was one of the NBA stars of the 1960s.

This quartet has ushered in a new era of basketball. While different in style, size, and play, they are yesterday’s Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Bill Russell, and Oscar Robertson.

They are the Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the 1980’s. They are the Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Clyde Drexler of the 1990’s.

In short, these are the players who are the premier endorsers of the league. The clutch players and leaders of their respective teams. While the greats from previous time-periods mentioned here were crafty and inventive with moves like Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook and Malone’s drop step and power, today’s stars are all about awesome packages of athleticism, muscle, and quickness that leave not only their opponents in awe but fans dropping their jaws.

Other drafts following the ’03 class have produced mega-stars as well such as Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic in 2004 and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2006. Durant has been on a tear recently as he entered the all-star game with a streak of scoring at least 25 points in 25 straight games for the Thunder. Howard came straight out of high school and Durant left after one amazing year at Texas. Add those players to the aforementioned quartet of 2003 and the NBA has a bright future with these players making up a chunk of its’ core talent.

At one point in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s all-star game, the race for the MVP was down to one of four players. TNT put a graphic up on the screen summarizing their stats to that point in the game.

Dwight Howard is a growing force in the NBA.

Dwight Howard is a growing force in the NBA.

Guess who the four players were? James, Anthony, Bosh, and Wade. Not surprising. James finished with 25 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds while Anthony scored 27 points to lead the West and tied for the team lead with 10 rebounds. Bosh finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Dwight Howard finished with 17 points and five rebounds for the East while Durant had 15 points and five rebounds for the West.

Judging from numbers like these, the NBA is in good hands. Not only for future all-star games, but for the league itself and the team’s of these players. The future is indeed bright. With three marquee players residing in the East (James, Bosh, and Wade), one can only hope that Anthony and the Nuggets or Durant and the Thunder might square off against one of those guys in the NBA finals one year.

It would give us that Magic-Bird feeling again. That has a nice ring to it and brings back memories. Memories of yesterday that spark new ones to be created. After all, there is a changing of the guard which looks to potentially be dramatic. Stay tuned as time always tells.

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