NBA all-star game needs a reset

Louis LaVenture,

In the second half of the 66th annual NBA All-Star game on Sunday in New Orleans, two big men from the Eastern Conference squad had a breakaway two-on-one opportunity. The only player left to defend them was Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.

How did Curry respond?

He laid down on his stomach at the free throw line, covered his ears with his hands and waited for Milwaukee Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo to throw down a thunderous dunk that nearly broke the backboard. Curry got up and shrugged his shoulders like the famous Kanye West pose, preferring to be safe instead of on a poster.

This was a microcosm of the entire game that has become a lackluster spectacle of dunks and no defense, a far cry from what it used to be.

It used to mean something more than just the acquired status of being an all-star; these are the best basketball players in the world and they took pride in winning the exhibition.

In 1992, despite retiring before the season began, Los Angeles Lakers guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson was voted into the game by the fans even though he announced that he contracted the HIV virus. Public knowledge of the disease was nowhere near the level it is in 2017 and many feared he could give somebody the virus through the physicality of the sport.

Johnson went on to help the Western Conference win as he went toe-to-toe with Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas from the Eastern Conference en route to a most valuable player award in the game. A court full of hall of famers in an exhibition game and all they wanted to do was win.

This is a far cry from what fans got on Sunday. These players are voted into the game because of what they do in real games that matter when the pressure is on. Is it unfair to not expect that from the midseason classic?

The most recent version of the game had absolutely no defense and set several offensive records that included most points scored in a game. The hometown New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis was constantly fed the ball by his teammates on his way to the record-breaking 52-point and Most Valuable Player Award performance.

The game set records for most points in a game by a team, 196, most points in a game by both teams, 374, most points in a half, 97, most points in a half for both teams, 189; not to mention it shattered all of the shooting records as well.

Guys don’t run full speed, they let offensive players fly by them and don’t even attempt to stop alley-oop dunks. The league and commissioner Adam Silver need to revisit the game that has become a glorified street-ball game, in order to return it to a somewhat competitive stature. I miss the days where guys blocked shots and played defense instead of worried about being labeled as the guy who goes too hard and alienates his fellow superstars.

I like offense, but I would also love the game to mean something for the fans who, instead of seeing the best players in the world go at each other, get a dunk contest instead.