Last Thursday the starters for the upcoming NBA All-Star game were announced. No Celtics crack the starting five (4 should be named reserves this Thursday as I pointed out last week as I picked all 24). The Eastern Conference will trot out Derrick Rose (Bulls), Dwyane Wade (Heat), LeBron James (Heat), Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks), and Dwight Howard (Magic). I can’t make a solid argument against any of those selections.
The West counters with Chris Paul (Hornets), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets), Kevin Durant (Thunder), and Yao Ming (Rockets). Of course David Stern will replace Yao, who played 5 total games. The other 4 starters clearly all deserve to be there.
Kobe received over 2.3 million votes. Crazy. There are a lot of front-runners in the world. And before anyone says, “I can’t believe you don’t think Kobe should be an All-Star!” Relax. He does. My point is I’m shocked he is the most popular player. Colorado. The self-gratifying documentary he did with Spike Lee. I don’t know, maybe it’s the Celtics fan in me. I know Kobe is one of the greatest players ever, I know he should be starting in the All-Star game, but I am surprised that many people like him.
One guy Kobe will be playing with in a few weeks is the NBA’s scoring leader, Kevin Durant. What do we know about Kevin Durant? He’s in his 4th year with the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise (rookie year in Seattle). He played 1 season at Texas. He scored 30.1 points per game last season to lead the league. Prior to this year his points and rebounding numbers increased in each season. He’s 6’9’’ and real thin. He can score just about anywhere on the floor. And he was the leader in the 2010 Gold Medal Winning World Championships Team.
Did we know he doesn’t take crap from anyone? I would say before yesterday’s loss to the Heat, 108-103, we weren’t sure. Yes he is a confident player, but that characteristic was always tagged with “quiet.” He has a quiet confidence. Well against Miami he made his voice heard, both during the game and after.
Apparently Chris Bosh fouled James Harden on a play, and Durant tried telling Harden to just dunk on Bosh next time. Bosh said that wouldn’t happen, Durant said it would happen, and back and forth it went until both players were T’d up. It’s only the second technical foul called on Kevin Durant all season, and the first has since been rescinded.
But the talk did not stop on the floor. In the post game press conference, Durant followed it up by saying Bosh is one the league’s many “fake tough guys.” Durant also said he’s not going to Bosh’s comments slide, especially in OKC. I love it. All championship teams throughout the years have had some kind of swagger. They don’t need to get T’d up all the time to prove, but you know its there. Before yesterday’s game I knew a lot about Kevin Durant the player. The talent was always good enough to be a champion. Now the personality matches to achieve the next level of success. And the fact that he called out one of the stars on the Heat, well that looks good too.
-You’re Fired! The Indiana Pacers have canned former Celtics head coach Jim O’Brien after a 17-27 start to the season. I picked the Pacers to make the playoffs at the start of the year, and early on it appeared as though they would likely the 7th or 8th seed. However a 4-13 stretch in their last 17 now has the team 2 games back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Assistant Frank Vogel has been named the interim coach.
Larry Bird wants to see more of the young guys on the court. It really can’t hurt. Keep an eye on Paul George and Lance Stephenson going forward.
-20 Straight?!? The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost their last 20 games. They are currently 8-39 on the season. They finished last year 61-21. If they ran the table this year they would be 43-39, 18 games worse than a year ago… and that’s if they win out! Their .170 winning percentage makes Sacramento and Minnesota blush.
LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Delonte West, and Big Z OUT; Ramon Sessions, Manny Harris, Joey Graham, Ryan Hollins IN. Don’t forget an Mike Brown for Byron Scott coach change and… you got what will be the worst drop off in wins in league history. And the kicker there’s not even a Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Derrick Rose like player in the draft. Rough stuff.
But can the Raptors catch them? Toronto has lost 11 straight.
Next week on Around the NBA I will examine the All-Star selections and tell you where they went wrong… Enjoy the week in the NBA.