The NBA All Star Game Can’t Properly Honor Kobe Bryant if Players Don’t Care About Effort

We need to talk about what Adam Silver can do to fix the NBA All-Star Game.

The answer is simple. Adam Silver can’t do a damn thing. This is on the players. 

We had a great dunk contest thanks to Mac McClung, and Dame Lillard gave us a show in the three point shootout. Only to have All-Star Weekend ruined by the actual All-Star game?

If fans loved layup lines, every seat in every NBA city would be filled an hour before gametime. 

But nobody outside of young kids and enterprising Instagram models care about layup lines. 

So why should anyone build their day around watching a defenseless “All-Star” game where everyone acts like a Harlem Globetrotter when they have the ball, and a Washington General when they don’t?

Before you think I’m some crotchety old man shouting “get off my lawn,” ask yourself if your time is valuable. You have a finite amount of minutes on this earth, and when you sit down to be entertained, do you want to watch people give minimal effort? 

When you’re at an Avengers movie do you want the actors forgetting lines and the special effects to be unfinished?

When you save up to go out to a nice steak dinner do you want them bringing your medium rare filet mignon to you on a paper towel?

The All-Star game is supposed to be a special occasion, where the best of the best show you WHY they’re the best of the best. 

It’s in the middle of the season because it’s supposed to be something that motivates players toward excellence in the first half of the year, and so that the athletes come into the break in peak physical condition so they can put on a show for the fans. 

Somewhere along the way, the players got it into their heads that the NBA All-Star game is equivalent to the NFL’s Pro Bowl, a reward for a full season of excellence to players that deserve a vacation.

20 years ago, the All Star game had one injury replacement, and despite going to double overtime, had 47 combined three-pointers attempted. This last weekend, several players either opted out or acted like no-shows on the court, and the teams combined to launch 126 combined three pointers, with Pandemic Paul George missing all nine of his attempts. 

You can change as many details as you want about the game, but that will only get you so far. Team Captains, and the Elam ending have both been pleasant surprises, and one of the only compelling things about this game was whether LeBron would keep his undefeated streak going. 

But no cosmetic action can replace individual effort from the players. And for the players that do want to take this game seriously, we’re de-incentivizing their desire to participate. Nikola Jokic is on the verge of his third consecutive NBA MVP award, and is telling media members that he wouldn’t draft himself because the All-Star game doesn’t suit his skillset. 

The NBA has established that it wants this weekend to annually honor and reflect on the memory of Kobe Bryant, but the way things are trending, this would be like honoring your mother’s cooking by going out to eat. 

Are we to believe that the same Kobe Bryant that got hyped up about Dwyane Wade accidentally breaking his nose in the All-Star game wants to see defensive specialist Bam Adebayo pull down zero rebounds in 24 minutes?

Do we really think the Mamba would have respected the seven combined personal fouls last night when in three separate All-Star games he committed five fouls by himself?

If Kobe Bryant’s name is going to be on that MVP trophy, the least these players could do is pretend to care.

Let that sink in.

Julius Randle Deserves To Be An NBA All-Star

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks

I love the NBA, but I hate the All-Star Game. That might come off as dramatic so I’ll adjust. I don’t hate the All-Star Game, but it doesn’t excite me anymore. As a kid, I adored All-Star weekend especially Saturday night’s festivities. The idea of the game’s best players teaming mirroed an NBA Live game so I tuned in.

As I got older, the All-Star Game lost its luster. I don’t expect guys to guard each other for 48 minutes, but the lack of anything resembling defense made it unwatchable. I’m not a Grinch. I like alley-oops and deep threes, but I wouldn’t mind the occasional blocked shot or steal.

I may dislike the exhibition game, but being an All-Star matters. It’s fun to joke about the level of competiion during the game, but it’s still an honor to be named one of the 24 players chosen to represent the NBA.

This leads me to Julius Randle, one of the biggest surprises of the season. Randle’s all-star status is not up for debate. Randle deserves to be an all-star this season.

So far, Randle’s numbers are all career highs with averages of 23.2 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. It’s Randle’s playmaking that’s significantly improved. Randle’s never sniffed four assists per game in his career. Now, he could realistically surpass six per game. That’s unfathomable for a guy that usually turned the ball over after a spin move.

Randle’s numbers are not being put to waste for a revitalized New York Knicks team. The Knicks currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 14-16. Sure, it’s below .500, but last season, the Knicks needed 50 games to record their 14th win.

Coming into the season, the majority of Knicks fans would struggle to say anything positive about Randle. Most, including myself, were counting down the days to trade or buy out the 26-year-old. I was completely wrong. Randle is making us all eat crow. After Monday’s win over the Hawks, Randle said, “Hard work is undefeated.” Could not have said it better myself, Julius.

Due to increased competition, Randle’s spot on the team is far from a guarantee. The five starters were announced tonight, which means seven spots are up for grabs.

Randle finished seventh in fan voting, which isn’t ideal, but not a huge blow. Randle tying for fifth in the frontcourt media vote strengthens his case to become a reserve.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the East takes five guards, five forwards, and two wild cards (guard or forward). Here are the players that are leading the pack and will make the team.

Starters: G Kyrie Irving, G Bradley Beal, F Giannis Antetokounmpo, F Kevin Durant, F Joel Embiid

Next Set of Locks: G James Harden, G Jaylen Brown, F Jayson Tatum

With four spots remaining, there’s room for one guard, one forward, and two wild cards. I’d expect the reserves to come from this pool of players.

  • F Julius Randle
  • F Khris Middleton
  • F Domantas Sabonis
  • G Trae Young
  • G Zach LaVine
  • F Bam Adebayo
  • F Jerami Grant
  • F Jimmy Butler
  • F Gordon Hayward
  • F Tobias Harris
  • F Ben Simmons

Right off the bat, I’m giving one spot to Sabonis, who’s averaging 21.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. Sabonis is the best player on a Pacers team that’s fourth in the Eastern Conference. He’s making the team.

At least one more guard is making the team so pick either LaVine or Young. With two spots remaining, there are few ways this could go. Simmons, Harris, and Middleton could be rewarded for being second-level stars on top teams. (In the Eastern Conference, Sixers are first and the Bucks are third.) Will they reward Bam, Grant, or Hayward for making sizable jumps in their numbers from a season ago?

Full disclosure, I’m a Knicks fan so I’m biased. However, besides numbers and the team’s success, the All-Star game is about narratives. With Randle at the helm, the Knicks went from a projected lottery team to sixth in the East. Randle is the reason why the Knicks are one of the best turnaround stories in the NBA.

The Knicks are back right now, all thanks to their future All-Star, Julius Randle.

Do you like Tom Brady? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Who Will be the Captains in the NBA’s First Televised All-Star Game Draft?

All-Star Game Draft

The NBA All-Star Game just got more exciting!

On Wednesday, the NBA and the NBA Players Association announced their agreement to televise the 2019 NBA All-Star Game Draft.  Last year, the NBA made changes to the NBA All-Star Game that proved to be a major success.  In 2018, the NBA ditched the boring traditional Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format. The league opted for a more relatable playground pick-up style format.  Accordingly, the two players who received the most votes from each conference picked the teams from the available pool of eligible players. Unsurprisingly, those two players were LeBron James and Steph Curry.

The 2018 changes reinvigorated fan interest in the All-Star Game. Everyone was excited to see who ended up on which team and the game was much more competitive.  The only thing that could have made it better was if the team selection was televised, which King James was in full support of.  However, the NBA did not televise the draft last year for fear of publicly putting the players in a compromising position with having to choose one player over the other.

All of those concerns have disappeared. ¬†The NBA has listened to the fans and agreed to televise the 2019 NBA All-Star Game Draft. ¬†Since the announcement,¬†the debate regarding who will be this year’s captains and who will be picked first and last began immediately.

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First or Last…Does it Really Matter?

No one wants to be picked last, but someone has to be. Is it really embarrassing to be picked last in for an All-Star Game? It is an All-Star game. Everyone is an All-Star, which means that everyone is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in the world.  Whether a player is picked first or last, that player is still one of the best players in the world. Furthermore, the honor is in being in the pool of eligible players to be picked. Therefore, it does not matter who is picked first or last.  The fun for the players is in being eligible.  The fun for the fans is watching the teams be assembled.

Who will be this year’s team captains?¬†

This is the most anticipated¬†question with James’ move to the Western Conference. ¬†Since James left the East, that captain position is up for grabs. ¬†It may likely be filled by Giannis Antetokounmpo based on last year’s votes. He came in second behind James.

However, the captain position in the West is not as easy to predict. Most of the league’s biggest stars are in the West. Russel Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul, and James Harden, just to name a few, all play for Western Conference teams. ¬†Furthermore, the West has the league’s most dominant team, the Golden State Warriors (Warriors). ¬†The Warriors had four players (Curry, Durant, Green, and Thompson) in the All-Star Game last year and will likely¬†have the same four this year. The competition for team¬†captain in the West is stiff. King James’ move to the Lakers increased the competition that much more.

Can James and Curry be Captains Again?

However, King James stated that he would be willing to switch captains for the 2019 All-Star Game, but there is no rule requiring him to do so.  Per the video above,  a coach may not coach two years in a row. However, there is no such rule prohibiting a player from being a captain for two consecutive years. Therefore, James or Curry could serve as captain for the 2019 game.   Furthermore, Curry expressed that he would like to serve as a captain again since the game will be in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Since James is now in the West, both James and Curry cannot both be captains.  Will either James or Curry receive the necessary votes to be captain? Or will someone else emerge from the West as the new favorite? Either way, it will be fun to watch. Furthermore, James and Curry are both certain to land a spot on either team.