The reserves for the All-Star Game in Los Angeles are set to be announced this evening. Soon after, the internet and the sets of ESPN and TNT will explode in righteous indignation at the “snubs” left off of this year’s teams.
It’ll all be a bunch of yelling, screeching, and caps lock for nothing. The game will take place, we’ll cheer for the spectacle of it all, and the snubs will be forgotten. But what if the snubs meant something? Imagine the possibilities if the people choosing the teams faced potential consequences from their selections – and non-selections – down the road, in games with playoff implications and tempers flaring? What if captains picked the teams, playground style, for the NBA All-Star Game?
You know it’s what you want. No more of this bull excrement where an injured center is the leading vote-getter. No more wondering what it would be like if Blake Griffin was on the receiving end of an alley-oop from LeBron James. If David Stern was willing to change the rules and give fans some actual excitement – some actual fun – we could make the All-Star Game a must-see event.
Bill Simmons wrote about it. The NHL stole the idea and ran with it – and then put the game head-to-head against a full slate of NBA games and the Pro Bowl (an absolute joke of an event, we can all agree – but why even give Americans the option of watching football instead of your All-Star celebration?).
And now, Sean Highkin, our good friend over at Rip City Project, and I are mocking it. If the NBA adopted the “captains pick sides” format for the All-Star Game, how would the selection process go down? Who would the captains be? And what would the rosters look like? Fortunately for you, Sean and I climbed into the minds of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant to give you the answer. His words are Team LeBron’s selections, and I speak for Kobe. Let the game begin!
Why are LeBron and Kobe the team captains? Well, excepting Yao Ming, the top two vote-getters were Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. Dwight, however, ceded his team-captain spot to LeBron James, saying in a statement only he could get away with making: “Everyone knows LeBron’s the King of Decision-making. Besides, I’ve got a feeling I know who he’s going to pick first.”
Team LeBron selects Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
LeBron won the coin flip and was awarded the first overall pick. Although the speculation was that he would, in fact, take Howard first, he ended up playing it safe and taking superstar teammate Dwyane Wade. They’ve already gone through the “can they share the ball?” media cycle once this season, and he doesn’t want to start that up again.
Team Kobe selects Pau Gasol
In his own sign of solidarity, Kobe took the most productive Spaniard he’s ever played with, Pau Gasol. In a game where he’d be without the security of the triangle, Kobe wanted a player with whom he was familiar and who would crash the boards and play defense.
Why didn’t Kobe take Dwight and throw off LeBron’s plans? Kobe, when asked, merely insinuated that he’d beaten Howard once before and would have no problem doing so again.
Team LeBron selects Dwight Howard
LeBron figured Kobe would, like him, take his own right-hand man first, and so took Dwight Howard second, as expected. Given the hit in popularity LeBron took this summer post-Decision, he figured he could do worse than to take the superstar who is his polar opposite in public approval and likability. That, and it’s Dwight Howard. Taking him high in a draft like this is usually a good call anyway.
Team Kobe selects Chris Bosh
Up to this point, the name of the draft game had been loyalty, but Kobe wouldn’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of a betrayed teammate and to drive a wedge in between the Heat’s Big 3. In continuing with his infatuation with tall, long players that could get him plenty of rebounds, Kobe selected Chris Bosh, hoping that the slight by Team LeBron would fuel Bosh like ladies-of-the-night make a Charlie Sheen binge run on all cylinders.
Team LeBron selects Kevin Durant
In a (supposedly) completely unintentional follow-up to Kobe’s Bosh pick, LeBron inadvertently gives PTI two weeks of material by taking Kevin Durant, implicitly agreeing with KD’s “fake tough guy” assessment of his teammate. When asked about this, LeBron insisted that he didn’t know what “fake tough guy” meant until someone told him.
Team Kobe selects Kevin Garnett
No, seriously. Stop laughing.
Anything LeBron can do, Kobe can do better – especially when it comes to drawing media (and triple-team) attention. They said it could never happen. But in a scenario where Kobe has to win one game in order to save us from the aliens, Bob Ryan style – that is what this game is for, right? – he selects Kevin Garnett. In taking cheap shots at the Suns, Kobe sees in KG the reflection of a true warrior, like himself, and a man who can show Durant and Howard that there’s nothing to smile about on a basketball court.
Kobe taking a Celtic? Forget whether or not he’s clutch – we’ll be talking about this one until Kornheiser makes another “skirt” comment.
Team LeBron selects Chris Paul
LeBron would be ridiculous as the point guard on this team, but we’re all well aware that he doesn’t want to play the position. So it comes as no surprise that he selects close friend and fellow CAA client Chris Paul next.
Team Kobe selects Derrick Rose
As it so often goes in picking teams, Kobe responds in kind by selecting a point guard. Given what he’s doing in Chicago and the current play of Deron Williams and the Jazz, Kobe takes Derrick Rose to set up his harder-than-necessary shot selection.
Team LeBron selects Blake Griffin
LeBron’s next pick is a can’t-miss from a storyline standpoint as well as a from a basketball one. He knows all too well that Kobe’s squad will be the crowd favorite given that this year’s game is being held in his house, so he takes the city’s other hot commodity, Blake Griffin. LeBron and/or CP3 throwing lobs to Griffin. Think about that for a minute. You’re already in love with this All-Star-draft concept.
Team Kobe selects Dirk Nowitzki
Kobe Bryant cares not for your foolish, misguided notions of entertainment. Kobe bathes in the blood of the vanquished, sustains on the hearts of orphans and seeps wins from every one of his pores. Count. The. Rings. Kobe simply wants to win this game, carry LeBron’s head home on a pike, and carry his precious conch onto the NBA Finals.
And what better way to prepare for a war than to recruit a German? Kobe takes Dirk Nowitzki for his defense and spacing of the floor – and besides, someone on this team is going to need to be an effective clutch shooter.
Halfway through the selection process, some of the best players in the game remain available. Team LeBron consists of James, Wade, Howard, Durant, Paul, and Griffin. Team Kobe counters with Kobe, Gasol, Bosh, Garnett, Rose, and Nowitzki.