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Scott Howard-Cooper

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Normally foes, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo will be teammates for Sunday night's All-Star game.
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Out of the ordinary All-Star Weekend ready for main event


Posted Feb 20 2011 10:58AM

LOS ANGELES -- It's supposed to be colder and wetter here today than parts of the East, Carmelo Anthony will start for the Western Conference but may finish for the East, and no one can say for sure if the NBA will be throwing another one of these festivals next season.

Other than that, welcome to a typical All-Star game.

The league showcase is in the L.A. area for the fifth time, but there is nothing familiar about it for this or any location. Mother Nature is not cooperating, players and owners are preparing to go to the mattresses as the postseason lockout looms, and rumors continue to persist that 'Melo may get moved. Perhaps the deal goes down at halftime and he changes locker rooms on the spot.

It's a different kind of All-Star weekend, to be sure. Considering...

The players care about the outcome?

Or as LeBron James said, when asked whether the NBA could copy the NHL and have an All-Star game with teams decided by a draft, not geography: "No. Because the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, we don't like each other. We would not pick somebody from the Western Conference to be over here with us, and I don't think they would either. I don't think it would work."

On the other big front, while a lot is going on, little is actually happening. The four-day spectacle -- "weekend"? -- ends tonight with the game at Staples Center that should be the conclusion but feels more like part of the buildup. The trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET. A potential lockout could begin July 1. The East-West meeting, irrelevant even in other years as the headliner, is down to somewhere after car jumping on the priority list this eventful midseason.

So little is actually happening, in fact, that when David Stern addressed the media Saturday with labor unrest an obvious focus, he said owners have not yet proposed including an NFL-like franchise tag for players as part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, but that "it wouldn't surprise me," if that eventually comes up. Countless hours into negotiations with the union, the clock ticking closer toward a labor stoppage, and the league still hasn't offered up all its talking points for discussion?

This has become one unique situation rolling into the next, tied together by timing and location. It's not just the off-court issues, either. Boston and Miami are in mid-battle in the East, and tonight there will be five representatives from the Celtics (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, coach Doc Rivers) and three from the Heat (James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh) in the same locker room. Kobe Bryant said the Heat, Celtics and Hawks are coming into his home.

"I think there will be some boos in the stands," Gregg Popovich, coach of the Spurs and the West, said of what will likely still be a pro-Lakers crowd even with the usual national ticket distribution to other teams and sponsors. "I'm expecting that."

As much as anything can be expected this weekend.

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