Winner: Anthony Davis
When the NBA relocated All-Star Weekend to New Orleans, Anthony Davis could participate without leaving home. The Brow showed his appreciation Sunday in the All-Star Game by breaking a scoring record previously held by Wilt Chamberlain (no, not that one), racking up 52 points. Then he was crowned MVP, which was the cherry (or the purple and yellow sprinkles, if we’re staying true to location) on top for the evening. But then his front office found a way to add DeMarcus Cousins to the team. Plus, Mardi Gras is less than 10 days away — keep winning like this, AD, and eventually it has to translate on the court. Right?
When Russell Westbrook passed to Kevin Durant and the latter lobbed it back to the former for a dunk, NBA narratives shifted like time-lapsed tectonic plates.
All of the mounting drama that has transpired over the last few months — even the last few hours, as Westbrook warmed up solo on the other side of the court before the game — turned into Wait, BFFs again? with two passes and a dunk. Reggie Miller even went so far as to wonder if they were just trolling us all these months with uncomfortable interviews and in-game retorts. (Short answer: No, Reggie. As a former 15-year-old girl who went through high school, I know awkward. Russ and KD up to this moment? That’s genuine.) In Reggie’s defense, the sequence was seamless, but reality counters with reason: Maybe it came easily because the two (professional basketball) players repeated that exact play for years.
After totaling 82 seconds together, both were nonchalant, which is an improvement over dismissive. Russ called it a “nice give-and-go.” Durant said the “great basketball play” happened because Westbrook “was open, so I threw him the lob.” It’s a start, but also, hopefully, an end. Before the second half, Westbrook warmed up on KD’s side of the court.
Loser: John Wall
The sincerest of condolences to the family, the city of Washington, D.C., the Wizards organization, even Ernie Grunfeld, but once an old enemy eliminates himself, a new one must emerge.
Loser: The East
Literally. The East fell to the West, 192–182. But after weeks of speculation about how Westbrook and Durant and Durant’s new teammates would perform and interact, Team East has been in the conversation as much as KD’s hometown Wizards were during his free agency. Ask this random fan watching the game or the King Baby mascot (on second thought, don’t): Who managed to matter in the game that ultimately doesn’t?
Zoom out, and you’ll see Giannis Antetokounmpo finishing with 30 points and officially changing his name to Dell Curry; LeBron doing this, and this, and this; Isaiah Thomas going shot-for-shot with Westbrook; and John Wall windmilling his way back in time to compete in the dunk contest. Do we really care how far apart KD and Russ were in the team picture?
Who forgot to tell Giannis?
If it takes an intense free-agency divorce followed by months of slights, petty comments, and constant coverage; if it takes repeated questions followed by indirect answers; if it takes nearly six months to get a reunion for just one play — if all of this is what it takes to make Kawhi Leonard smile, it has been worth it. Let’s do this every season.
Or just buy him a selfie stick.