The NBA can sometimes be engaging, paradoxical, unpredictable, hilarious, brilliant, crazy and addictive, and sometimes all of them, all at the same time. So in honour of my favourite piece of fiction that features all of the above characteristics – Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22 – I bring to you this new column, where we’ll highlight the 22 most interesting short stories from the NBA in recent days. Try and catch them all!
No matter where you spend your weekend in mid-February – whether you’re in Asia or in North America, whether it’s summer or winter in your part of the world – you’ll be able to enjoy a starry night or two, even in the comfort of your own home! Yes, the All-Star Weekend is here, and you don’t have to be in Houston to catch it!
1. Before the All Star Weekend (February 15-17) even begins, your first move should be getting a head start on the action. Download the NBA’s All Star 2013 app, which is the ultimate guide to All-Star Weekend, featuring scores, videos, top stories, and most importantly, get your chance to vote for performers of various competitions throughout the weekend.
2. But no matter how many other events take place during the weekend, the biggest stage is invariably the All-Star Game itself, which will fall on Sunday, Feb. 17. This year’s version will be the 62nd edition of the game, which was first played in March 1951.
3. It will once again be the East vs. West, in a rivalry of the conferences which is led by the East, 36-25.
4. So how big is the All Star Game exactly? This year’s game is expected to reach 200 countries and territories and be broadcast in more than 40 languages.
5. Houston is playing host to the All-Star Weekend for the third time. The lone All Star from the home team Houston Rockets is James Harden, but other Rockets such as Chandler Parsons (Rising Stars Challenge) and Jeremy Lin (Skills Challenge) will be participating in the festivities, too. In addition, Harden will be the captain of ‘Team Harden’ in the Shooting Stars competition.
6. One of the brightest stars on this night will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. Kobe was the leading vote-getter in the All-Star fan ballot. And with that, he earned his 15th straight trip to the All-Star Game, a record that put him at second place behind just Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) for most All-Star appearances, tied with Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett. When he was 19, Bryant was also the youngest ever to play in the All-Star Game, and he is the Game’s leading scorer, passing Michael Jordan in Orlando last year.
7. Another All-Star legend playing in the event will be Kevin Garnett, who has been voting into the starting frontcourt for the Eastern Conference this year despite playing the fewest minutes per game of his career. This is also his 15th selection to the Game.
8. Completing the triumvirate of All-Star legends is Tim Duncan, who has been voted by coaches to the bench of the Western Conference team. This is Duncan’s 14th selection to the All-Star Game.
9. For the second year in a row, the Western Conference team will be dominated by Los Angeles. Two Lakers (Kobe and Dwight Howard) and two Clippers (Chris Paul and Blake Griffin) have been voted into the West’s starting lineup.
10. The West starting five is completed by last year’s reigning All-Star MVP Kevin Durant, who is surely one of the favourites to post a repeat performance.
11. The last time the All-Star Game was held in Houston, LeBron James led the East to a victory and was named the game’s MVP. The reigning league MVP will hope for an encore performance back in the same venue.
12. NBA coaches picked the reserves for the squad, and after the field was completed, an injury has already made way for a new entrant: Rajon Rondo was replaced in the East by Brook Lopez.
13. Rondo’s absence has raised a new question. Who will start in his place for the East? Many people think it may be point guard Kyrie Irving. But Miami’s Chris Bosh believes it should be Chris Bosh!
14. The success of their 2012 championship continues to spill into 2013. Miami Heat will have the most number of player’s at the All-Star Game (3) in LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.
15. Every year, a group of new faces become All-Stars for the first time. This year’s list includes Tyson Chandler, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, Joakim Noah, James Harden, and Brook Lopez.
16. The biggest snub for the All-Star Game is surely Golden State’s Stephen Curry. Although teammate David Lee made the cut for the second time in his career, Curry is still left out. Hopefully it motivates the young guard to play at even a higher level for the rest of the season.
17. Once the team was decided, it was the time to pick the coaches. Leading their teams to the best record in their respective conferences, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich will be leading the East and West teams this year.
18. This year, the All Star teams will have captains, too. And the National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA) chose Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul to captain the East and West teams.
19. For the Weekend’s Friday night event, the best rookies and sophomores in the league were drafted Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal to take part in the Rising Stars Challenge. Barkley’s team will feature this year’s top draft pick Anthony Davis, Ricky Rubio, Isiaah Thomas and more, against Shaq’s picks of last year’s Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, star rookie Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, and others.
20. This year, the East vs. West rivalry will extend to the All-Star Saturday competitions too, such as the Shooting Stars, the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest. Wade and Paul will oversee the players of their ‘teams’ as they participate against each other.
21. "The NBA got it right!" was the general consensus after the league announced the field for this year’s Slam Dunk Contest. This year, Jeremy Evans will be joined by Eric Bledsoe and Kenneth Faried in the West against Gerald Green, Terrence Ross, and James White in the East.
22. In anticipation of the Slam Dunk contest, here’s a video of James ‘Flight’ White: a role-player with the New York Knicks, but man who gained cult status in the past for being one of the greatest dunkers around. It’s the All-Star Weekend – get lifted!