The All-Star game shines like a beacon for ballers everywhere with hoop dreams and superstar aspirations. This evenings game became a dream come true for one Philadelphia native, and something of a nightmare for another who currently calls the city home.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant poured in 31 points to lead the Western Conference squad to a 135-120 victory over the Eastern Conference. Bryant, who grew up in Philadelphia, received a round of boos as he held his All-Star 2002 MVP trophy high over his head.
The Philadelphia crowd has good reason to dislike Bryant. His Lakers squad beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the league finals. Also, the 76ers Allen Iverson Ð last All-Star games MVP Ð scored only five points in the game. The poor performance must have been particularly stinging to Iverson playing in front of his home crowd wearing number six in honor of former 76ers great Dr. J. Julius Erving. Unfortunately, Iverson could only honor Erving in ideal and not in practice with his forgettable performance.
Also for the Western Conference, Seattles Gary Payton scored 18 points, Minnesotas Kevin Garnett and San Antonios Tim Duncan each scored 14 points, Dallas Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 points, Sacramentos Peja Stojakovic scored 11 points, and Ð also for Minnesota Ð Wally Szczerbiak scored 10 points as well. Away from the hoop, Dallas Steve Nash tossed out nine assists, Duncan pulled down 14 rebounds, Garnett pulled down 12 rebounds, and L.A. Clipper Elton Brand collected 10 rebounds of his own.
For the East, Orlandos Tracy McGrady scored 24 points, Bostons Paul Pierce scored 19 points, Milwaukees Ray Allen scored 15 points, and Miamis Alonzo Mourning scored 13 points. Philadelphias Dikembe Mutombo pulled in 10 rebounds for his Eastern Conference squad.
Interestingly (or pathetically), no Eastern Conference starter scored in double digits.
The contest was fairly lackluster from the start, with multiple botched show-off attempts including a blundered dunk by the Wizards Michael Jordan himself. In addition, both teams combined for 30 turnovers, making for uneven, uninspiring play. To add to the All-Star blahs, the top two All-Star vote-getters did not even suit up. Both Torontos Vince Carter and Laker Shaquille ONeal did not play due to injury.
The less than entertaining action on the court better back-grounded the star-studded affair. Some of the celebrities in attendance included Britney Spears, boyfriend Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin, Samuel Jackson, Lil Bow-Wow, Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Nikki McCray, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Magic Johnson, and Jerry Rice, among others.
Also, for the pre-game and half-time entertainments, fans heard the music of Elton John, Alicia Keyes, and Patti LaBelle.
Check out the Flyer
this week for a full write-up on this weekends events.