NBA All Star Game: It’s a wrap

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Well, the NBA All Star game has concluded, here in Madison Square Garden. If you were watching at home it looked like a battle between Russell Westbrook and LeBron James for MVP honors. By the end of the first half Westbrook had scored more points in a half than anyone else, even MJ — 27.

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook

At one point in the first half the West was more than 20 points ahead of the East, but then LeBron James took the game into his own hands and brought his team within in a point at the half.

There was no defense in the first half. At one point the West got at least six offensive rebounds before someone put the ball in the basket. The East players barely tried for the rebounds.

If there’s one thing people say about the All Star Game they don’t like is that it looks like they aren’t trying hard enough to make it a game. But, no one wants to get hurt in what is just an exhibition game, so there wwere no hard hits or big challenges to any baskets.

At half time the fans were entertained by Ariana Grande and her special guest, Nikki Minaj, in a sexy set that featured a great light show, a stage full of dancers and of course two of the most popular singers in music today.

There were a lot of celebrities in the crowd, including Floyd “Money” Mayweather and many NBA legends, including Walt “Clyde” Frazier of the New York Knicks who wore a wild cow skin print suit complete with cowboy boots. Sorry, no photo of that, but it was a sight.

LeBron James
LeBron James

The second half was more spirited than the first. That’s when they started playing to win. The half opened with the teams seprated by one point and they kept it close, although neither team tried to play really tight defense. The crowd got more of a show as both teams moved the ball down the court, the East players kept pace with the West scoring points.

There were a lot of three-point shots in the second half. The West had some great three-point shooters on the floor, including Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who won the Three-Point Shootout on Saturday. Dirk Nowitzke sunk some long three-pointers and made a few moves to the basket.

In the end the West won it, with an epic score of 163 to 158. That’s 321 points scored in one game! It was Russell Westbrook who took home the MVP honors, scoring 41 points to the 30 put up by LeBron James.

Nikki Minaj and Ariana Grande (YouTube)
Nikki Minaj and Ariana Grande

We didn’t get to see stars Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Blake Griffin or Anthony Davis, but we were treated to great players like Carmello Anthony, Chris Bosch, Chris Paul and Tim Duncan. One of the biggest moments of the night was the opening tip-off between Marc and Pau Gasol. This was the first time an NBA All Star Game featured two brothers on opposing teams. The two hugged before the whistle and then went at it — Pau won the tip for the East.

It was an epic night of All Star NBA basketball.

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Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol

But now the NBA All Star Weekend is over. I hope you enjoyed it, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Statue of Liberty and Times Square — when it was snowing. We made our way between Manhattan and Brooklyn, the first time All Star Weekend was held in two venues. Saturday was in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, home of the Nets and Sunday’s big game was in Madison Square Garden, home of the Knicks.

When I got here from Southern California it was cold, but then it got even colder and it snowed. Last night it got down to six degrees and the wind chill made it feel like minus eight so this was an NBA All Star Weekend like few others.

This weekend is designed for the fans like few other sporting events. There were two NBA houses for fans, one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. We had cheerleaders from the Philadelphia Sixers as well as from the Knicks and Nets. And we had the stars of the NBA, past and present and the fans got to see them up close and then watch them put on a show of high scores and great basketball moves. The 2015 NBA All Star Weekend was one of the best sporting events I’ve been to in a while. Even with the cold weather.

Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol

If you get a chance to take in an NBA All Star Weekend, do it. It’s one of the most fan-friendly sporting events you can enjoy. Next year it will be on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016, at the Aire Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada, home of the Raptors. This will be the first time it is played outside the United States so it will be an historic event.

Now it’s time to head home to L.A. where the temperatures are in the 80s. I am looking forward to that.

From New York City, this is Claudia Gestro for the Los Angeles Post-Examiner.

 (All photos by Claudia Gestro unless otherwise noted)