Since I spent way more time than I’d like to admit watching the weekend’s All-Star festivities, I’d be remiss if I didn’t write something about them. Here are some scattered jottings about where the weekend left me as a hoops fan:
* Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the two most exciting players in the world today. I cheer for Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant–when I’m not watching Wolves, of course–but KD & LBJ are doing things we haven’t seen before. At least I haven’t. LeBron turned the ball over on the last play, but before that was doing his “Game 5 versus Detroit” routine. It wasn’t his fault that his team was down nearly 20 in the 4th Quarter. Durant was awesome throughout. His ball-handling seems to improve every year, and his shooting has always been stellar.
* Kobe isn’t as good as he thinks he is. It’s kind of sad to watch, if you’ve cheered for him over the last decade. He could be a key piece of a contender, but not the do-it-all guy that he used to be. Until he’s playing next to a clear STUD (somebody like Dwight Howard or Deron Williams, to name two realistic names) he’ll be doing this dance where he pretends like he has to take bad shots and that it’s all about winning. Ric Bucher (and yes, probably me) will make some excuses for him. But he and his team won’t be relevant while he considers himself an A1 Superstar MVP Candidate. He’s not that player anymore.
* Derrick Rose is a different cat. There’s Kobe and CP3, who are competitive to an awkward degree. Then there’s Derrick Rose, who seemingly doesn’t enjoy ANYTHING, but only thinks about winning. He has a bad back and his own coach was not going to let him run wild out there, tonight. But if he’s healthy for the playoffs, you can bet he’ll be ready to avenge that loss to the Heat last year. That conference finals may be the best the NBA has seen since the epic Kings-Lakers bout of 2002.
* The Thunder would be crazy to trade Russell Westbrook. Remember all those times San Antonio (allegedly) almost traded Tony Parker? Instead, they kept him along with the other core pieces. Every year, they’ve been a contender and they’ve won 3 titles with Tony on board. Hell, they might win this year’s title with Tony leading the way. If the Thunder keep Westbrook and Durant (both just extended contracts and seem to want to stay there forever) they’re a lock for contending every one of the next ten years (assuming the health of those two) and probably a lock for title(s).
* TNT is awesome. Shaq isn’t a good analyst, but he’s getting better and his sense of humor is starting to click on the set. To his credit, his super-long playing career allows him to drop anecdotes from the early 90′s up to the present. His playing experience adds something to that crew. Charles was on fire all weekend. Ever since his DUI, he’s been losing weight and gaining focus. When he’s into it, Chuck’s analysis and jokes are unrivaled by TV guys.