Feb 20, 2011, 3:20 PM EDT
Every road arena LeBron James has stepped into this season, he has been booed. Sometimes loudly, sometimes as a token, but always.
Will the All-Star Game be any different?
Fans — well, not fans in Cleveland but fans in most cities — seem to be moving on from the drama of the summer. And, this is an All-Star Game, an exhibition that James would be at no matter what decision he made over the summer. So maybe not.
There will be boos. Celtic Paul Pierce has been getting them all weekend, at public practices and at the Three-Point Contest — he is the face of the Celtics in the middle o Lakers Country. (Which is odd just because Pierce was born in Los Angeles and played his high school ball just miles from the Fabulous Forum where the Lakers held court in the ‘80s.)
But James? Will he be booed again? Or have the fans, at least the ones at this game, have moved on?
It’s just one thing to look for at the All-Star Game. Some others:
• Will Doc Rivers play his four Celtics together? He hinted he would, and they would have some advantages of familiarity for a stretch. They could run actual offensive sets (not that you need to, nobody is defending anyway). If the East needs to make a little run, don’t be shocked to see this.
• Who plays how much? West coach Gregg Popovich joked he was going to play Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki more than 30 minutes each while resting Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But the point of not letting anyone get to many minutes is a good one, it’s interesting to see who gets the run in this game. And if it is close, who gets the run in crunch time.
• Who gets MVP? This is usually the guy that wants it most. Frankly, you’re not on the All-Star team if you can’t just take over a game. Guys here are elite. So the question becomes who woke up this morning and said “I really want to be MVP” and starts demanding and controlling the ball. With the game in Los Angeles Kobe is always a safe bet. My guess? Look for Derrick Rose to try to establish himself and take it.
And if you’re rooting for Blake Griffin, don’t bet on it. The vets will freeze the rookie out in a heartbeat if he tries to take over.
• Don’t expect defense. Just don’t. People get frustrated because this does not feel like an NBA game. Because it isn’t. It’s an exhibition. And as much as these guys can, they turn off the competitive switch for a night. They know it’s a show, so they put on a show. Nobody is giving Chris Paul a hard foul when he goes to the rim. Accept it and move on.
Sit back and just enjoy the game. Oh, and come by PBT for our Live Blog during the game. Where we will mock guys for not playing defense anyway.
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