After a weekend full of bad Double Dare-esque obstacle course challenges, some of the worst three-point shooting you can sit through, and a great, if not a patronizing slam dunk contest win on behalf of white people everywhere, we got to the conclusion of All-Star Weekend with another game that will surely go mostly unremembered, except for maybe the Jayson Tatum of it all.
The decision to make the team captains, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, draft their teams just before tip-off ended up making for some good television, particularly from Giannis. He is full of Nigerian-uncle energy and has a way of acting like he doesn’t have any idea what’s going on even when he clearly does; watching him walk on stage with a bunch of papers full of handwriting for a reserves draft was like PTSD for me personally. But he’s also like a big teddy bear, so it comes across as charming and adorable when he does something like forget that Ja Morant is a starter on his team and thus not eligible to be drafted. Also, Nikola Jokić and Lauri Markkanen were drafted last—the disrespect that white people faced this weekend is truly disgusting.
But Giannis got the last laugh, finally drafting a winning team against LeBron. It helps that much of James's favorite reliable draft pieces, like Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard, weren’t around, either due to injury or not playing enough games. This also seemed to be one of the younger All-Star Games in some time. At the start of the game, it was a little jarring to see LeBron on a court with a bunch of mid-20-year-olds; if it wasn’t for Joel Embiid clearly nursing injuries, James would’ve been the slowest guy on the court. It proved to be Tatum's night to shine; he was named the game's MVP thanks to an impressive 55 points, largely scored via 10 three-pointers, that is now the new record for points in an All-Star Game. He also finished with 10 boards and six assists, and was seemingly there to prove a point.
All-Star Weekend tends to be the reminder that LeBron has been at this for way too long. His longevity is certainly worth celebrating, but at this point it's fair to wonder if he's starting to get as bored with the annual exhibition as the rest of us are. He sounded eager for the real games to start up again, telling reporters during his postgame press conference that the next 23 games will be the most important regular-season games of his career.
In the end, the All-Star Game was what it is every year: an exhibition for showing off some dunks and ludicrously deep three-pointers, with moments of defense sprinkled in at the end of quarters. We even got to enjoy the annual tradition of a few participants griping about how the game isn't "real basketball," with Mike Malone and Jaylen Brown fulfilling those duties this time around. That may be the clearest sign yet that the All-Star Game is immutably boring: the postgame complaints are starting to get just as predictable as the game itself.