Patrick Kinahan: All-Star game continues to stain NBA

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SALT LAKE CITY — Some 49 years ago a father and his young son, both basketball fanatics, attended a game that created a memory that was well worth the modest price of admission.

On that Tuesday on Jan. 14, 1975, they strolled up to the box office at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona, to see if any tickets were available to that night's NBA All-Star game. Hearing the affirmative, the dad plunked down some hard-earned cash for seats behind the basket in the upper level of the venue for a chance to be among the crowd of 12,885.

For them, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, watching legends the likes of Walt Frazier, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Rick Barry, to name only a few, play basketball. Scoring 30 points in 35 minutes, Frazier garnered MVP honors in leading the East over the West to a 108-102 victory.

The father is gone now, having passed 10 years ago. But every year since around mid-winter, his boy reflects on the shared experience, grateful to have witnessed some of his heroes play a game that was worth watching.

Fast forward to current times when the annual game is played over President's Day weekend. Talk about a waste of time and a major disappointment, unlike the various competitions on the two nights preceding the game.

As all basketball fans across the world know, the modern version of the All-Star game is an absolute joke. The participants barely break a sweat, jogging on the court from start to finish.

Defense is a dirty word, akin to treason. Even commissioner Adam Silver could barely muster a hint of enthusiasm in announcing the highest-winning score in the 211-186 East win over the West.


Other nobody-cares records that were set include 397 total points, the East's 42 3-pointers made, the East's 107 points in one half, and Karl Anthony-Towns scoring 31 points in a quarter for the West. Unofficially, the game also recorded the most yawns in a two-hour period.

The game — if it can be called as such — remains a sham, a deep stain upon the world's best basketball league. Any argument against such a proclamation calls into question the integrity and agenda of the protester.

Last year's game in Salt Lake City was no different, following the tradition of many in recent years. For all the declarations that the game needs to, and will, be competitive, it falls on deaf ears.

At the rate it's going, Charlie Brown stands a better chance of kicking the football that his friend Lucy pulls away every time at the last second. Unless something changes, the league ought to punt on the game.

"I think it's something we need to figure out," LeBron James, who made a record 20th appearance in the game, told the assembled media in Indianapolis. "Obviously, from a player's perspective, it's fun to get up and down, but at the end of the day, our competitive nature don't like to have free-flowing scoring like that."

Citing the familiar refrain, James went on to address the injury factor, as did fellow Lakers teammate Anthony Davis.

"Obviously, the fans and the league and everybody wants to be competitive, but then you also, as players, think about trying not to get hurt," Davis said.

The point is well taken — injuries are a part of the game or any workout for that matter. The same chance of mishap exists in the pickup games they play over the summers or when the players gather in their respective cities each September before training camps start.

Rather than wait for attitudes to change, which seems futile, maybe the customers need to tap out. Simply ignore the game and don't pay any money to attend.

Granted, corporations will continue to gobble up tickets to the game, which has become more of a spectacle rather than a competition. But Charlie Brown knows what to expect.

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Patrick is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.


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