The Weekend Where All-Stars Taught us a Lesson
Chris Paul became the first Clipper to scoop the NBA All-Star game MVP since 1978 as the West overcame the East 143-138 on Sunday Night.
The NBA’s annual exhibition followed its usual free scoring format as Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durrant combined to prove too much for LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony & co.
In a rare contested moment towards the end of the fourth quarter, Kobe Bryant blocked two shots from LeBron James to secure the game for the West.
It seems even in an exhibition game a competitive edge is unavoidable when it comes to the two the shining stars of the NBA over the last decade.
The relaxed nature of the all-star weekend which also included a celebrity all-star game on Friday evening (comedian Kevin Hart winning MIP – most irritating performer), a skills competition, three-pointer contest and a slam dunk contest suggests other sports could benefit from a midseason showpiece that relieves the rigours of weekly win at all cost competition.
The NFL host the Pro Bowl that takes on a similar format as the star players of the AFC and NFC conferences face off in prelude to the Super Bowl.
The previous two years had come in for criticism due to a lack of effort from the players involved making the spectacle seem rather pointless, but a more intense 62-35 NFC victory this year banished any of these thoughts.
On the other side of the pond, the Premier League currently hosts the Community Shield where the Champions and FA Cup winners face each other before the opening weekend of fixtures.
While this game is engrained in the mantra of English football, surely a weekend that celebrates the greatest players in the league as well as injecting some competitive fun to proceedings such as a free kick competition, box to box dash to find the fastest premier league player and a celebrity match in the style of Soccer Aid could act as a nod towards the amateur enjoyment of the game?
Cynics would of course deem the whole process a waste of time, providing another avenue for corporate sponsors to pump more money in to the game and charge £70 a ticket to watch star players not even trying in an already hectic Premier League schedule.
However, if styled in the correct fashion with North and South playing to win a pot of charity money, the public voting for their starting line up as they do in the NBA All-Star game and minimal ticket prices that were completely donated to charity, it could be a cause for good.
There’s a strong case for a Uefa sponsored clash between Europe’s two largest leagues with the strongest eleven from La Liga and the Premier League tackling each other for charity, or even a Champions League style Pro Bowl game before the final that featured the best players from either side of the Champions League draw.
The NBA all-star game raised $500,000 for charity, wherever the Pro Bowl is held the NFL conducts a series of community outreach programs and when ITV last hosted Soccer Aid it raised a staggering £6.5m.
In a time where sport has become so money orientated and players are chastised by tribal fans and even resort to cheating to gain an advantage, for one weekend a season we could perhaps take a step back and learn a lesson from the NBA.