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THE ALL-STAR GAME IS GOOD AGAIN: When the changes the league was making to the All-Star Game were first announced, much of the reaction was that of confusion. It wasn’t that people didn’t like the ideas, but more so the fact that the new rules were a bit difficult to understand. Well, it’s a good thing the NBA ignored the not-so-glowing early reviews, as the All-Star Game changes turned out wonderfully, and made the contest legitimately gripping for the first time in a long while.
The final score of the exhibition, a 157-155 for Team LeBron over Team Giannis, only starts to tell the story of how competitive the game was, as the uninterrupted fourth quarter, the goal of which was for a team to reach 157 points in order to be named the winners, was a back-and-forth affair featuring airtight defense, all-out effort from the best basketball players in the world (which is all we’ve wanted out of the All-Star Game for a long time) and a lot of whistles from the officials. It was tough to blame the referees, though, because both teams were playing so hard that it was legitimately difficult for anyone to score and fouls needed to be called.
The only slight complaint that could be had about the evening was that it ended on an Anthony Davis free throw, leading many – including Joel Embiid – to believe perhaps the next rule change should be that the contest can’t end at the foul stripe, but regardless, we’ll worry about that next season.
For now, here’s hoping the NBA sticks to these changes – which we can thank Chris Paul and professor Nick Elam for, by the way – next year, and that an ultra-competitive All-Star Game becomes the new norm.
BEST PLAYER OF THE NIGHT: Kawhi Leonard is your first-ever Kobe Bryant All-Star Game Most Valuable Player after finishing the contest with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He dedicated his performance to Kobe afterward, sharing lovely words about his fallen friend and mentor.
By the way, all night long we got a glimpse of what it would have looked like had Kawhi joined LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers, and for the sake of a competitive 2020 postseason, let’s just say we should all be thankful that didn’t happen.
ALL-STAR WEEKEND PODS: Our own Alex Kennedy was in Chicago for the All-Star festivities and recorded podcasts with a bunch of awesome guests, including Greg Oden, Shawn Marion and Jason Collins. You can listen to them all here.
COACHING CHANGE INCOMING? After all the excitement of the All-Star game was over with, Woj had a bomb waiting for us, reporting that the Cavs might have a new head coach very soon.
First-year head coach John Beilein has had a pretty disastrous stint so far leading things in Cleveland, and the Cavaliers have reportedly had talks with the 67-year-old about him stepping down during the All-Star break. Beilein waited until pretty late in his career to make the transition to the NBA, and it’s pretty clear he’s struggled with the switch to coaching professionals.
FRONT OFFICE TURMOIL IN CHICAGO: Bulls fans have been itching for a change to their front office for a while now, and it’s hard to fault them with some of the personnel decisions the team has made over recent years. Well, it looks like they might get their wish, as the team is reportedly in the early stages of looking for a new general manager to replace Gar Forman.
BIG MAN RETIRES: Marcin Gortat hasn’t been in the NBA since last season, but he hadn’t officially retired until yesterday when the Polish center announced he’s finishing his basketball career. Gortat – a former Wizard, Magic, Clipper and Sun – was pretty underrated throughout his career, and his contributions to the sport will be remembered fondly.
NOT BUYING IT: Joel Embiid says the narrative that he and Ben Simmons can’t coexist is… well, we’ll go with “false”, though he used slightly rougher language than that in his actual answer. Both Embiid and Simmons expect big things from Philadelphia in the second half of the season.
GIANNIS’ FUTURE: Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo joined USA Today to discuss a variety of topics, the most noteworthy being that he expects a long future in Milwaukee ‘as long as the Bucks keep winning.’
GETTING BETTER: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is beginning the process of returning to work eight months after he suffered a stroke, both with the aid of a wheelchair and service dog.
BENEFITS OF CANNABIS: 16-year NBA veteran Al Harrington used All-Star Weekend to tout the health benefits of marijuana and to promote his own cannabis extracts company, Viola.
MIGOS ARE ON BOARD: It’s been a tough season for the Hawks outside of Trae Young’s brilliance, but rap star Quavo of Migos fame, says he still trusts the process in Atlanta.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
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