This season might be one of the biggest disappointments in the history of New York professional basketball, but for one shining weekend at least, the Big Apple will be the envy of every other NBA city, as Manhattan and Brooklyn will collaborate in hosting the league’s All-Star Weekend festivities.
Lost in the abyssthat’s been Knicks and Nets basketballthis season is the fact that for the first time since 1998, the Garden will hostthe All-Star game.The last time the league’s bestplayed this particular exhibition in New York,it was Michael Jordan’s final venturein the gameas a Chicago Bull and Kobe Bryant’smaiden appearance. Bryant, then asecond-year player, was so popular that hestarted thegame despite not even starting for his own team at the time.
That year featured a who’s who of future basketball Hall of Famers — 13 in all. And while this year’s collection comes close to matching up in star power– particularly in the Western Conference — it’s different in that there are so many injury replacements, including Bryant, who is out for the season with an injured right shoulder. Bryant may be the biggest name on the infirmary list, but he’s also joined by Dwyane Wade, Blake Griffin, andAnthony Davis.
And that’s not even including Carmelo Anthony, who is the lone representative for either New York franchise.Anthony, who is trying his best to make the contestand the be the game’s ambassador, is still reportedly wafflingon whether to makethe appearance. He was voted as one of thethree starting frontcourt players (alongside LeBron James and Pau Gasol), butcommon sense says that the man who raked in $124 millionwith last summer’s deal should be thinking only of his employers and the ramifications of playing on a bum knee.
Smart money would say that Anthony should beadvised to shut it downfor the season — and that includes Sunday’s exhibition. But, withthe All-Star game being in his own backyard, being the lone New York rep, and the fact that there’s no telling when New York will be host again,Anthony doesn’t sound like a guy who’s open to reason.
“As of right now, I’ll be there,’’ said Anthony following a Knicks loss in Orlando, Wednesday night.“I’ll be at the game. I’ll probably participate in the game. Unless something happens in the course of me rehabbing the next couple of days.’’
Anthony, who will also coach in the All-Star Celebrity Game with Spike Lee on Friday,sat out theloss to the Magicto rest his sore left knee. He’s so banged up thathe didn’t evensit on the bench as he was rehabbingin the trainer’s room.
If he’s too injured to help his own team — the team that’s paying him $22.875 million this year — then one would inquire about the sanity of playing even one minute on Sunday.
Anthony, however, said he believes he’ll have enough rest to take the floor.
“I’m going to try.The game is on Sunday [and]I feel better [Wednesday]than I felt yesterday. That [rest] will give me a whole week to see what happens and at least give it a try,’’ said Anthony.
He added that he hasn’t talked with the Eastern Conference coach,Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, about limiting his minutes, but noted he’ll giveit his all if he gets on the floor.
“I can’tanswer how many minutes I’m going to play Sunday,’’ Anthony said. “It’s a very special moment, very special day [and]weekend for me.’’
The All-Star Game will be a spectacle no matter if Anthony plays or not. And fans will likely still be entertained either way — especially in watching a loaded Western Conference squad. But for Knicks fans, it goes without question that a majority — if not consensus — would rather see their franchise player suit up in orange and blue, instead of the conference rags.
– The league hasn’t formally made comments on the fact Anthony can miss games that count, yet be able to play in the All-Star game, but it must ruffle thefeathers of those who own season tickets at the Garden that New York’s premiere star is seemingly putting the exhibition game over his actual employer.
– Anthony noted that he’ll eventuallyneed surgery to repair tendon damage in the knee, but he’s just unclear when he’ll have the surgery. He’s also been noncommittal onwhether he’ll reconsider shutting it down for the season.
– There’s speculation he’d play the first two games afterthe break — marquee matchups against the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers — before making a decision on the rest of the season.