It was the most unavoidable topic this weekend.
No, not Carmelo Anthony. The prospect of a lockout.
Several of this year's All-Stars admitted they're worried about whether there will be a season next year, and some said they've had discussions on their respective teams about the possibility.
“We just try to prepare for it the best way we can if there is a lockout, what we have to do financially and what we have to do to stay in game shape whenever action begins again,” said Orlando center Dwight Howard. “But we don't want a lockout. We understand how important basketball is to our fans. And we want to do the best we can to make sure the fans have something to watch.”
Boston forward Paul Pierce, a rookie during the shortened 1998-99 season, wasn't optimistic that a new collective bargaining agreement would be established in time to prevent a lockout.
“The way it's been going, since last year we really haven't had any movement on the talks,” Pierce said.
IBAKA HONORED TO BE HERE
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka couldn't have been happier to participate in this year's All-Star festivities. As a rookie, Ibaka attended the event in Dallas but did not take part in any events.
“Just to be here at All-Star Weekend was a good experience,” Ibaka said. “It's something I worked hard in the summer for. So I'm very happy and proud of myself to be here.”
GIVE IT TIME
Eastern Conference coach Doc Rivers wasn't too concerned about the state of the center position in the NBA. Rivers said the shortage is only a phase.
“If you remember, seven years ago everyone was saying there are no point guards in the league,” Rivers said. “Now we're talking about it's the point guard renaissance. It's more point guards than it's ever been. It'll happen again with bigs. It just will. It'll just take time.”
One reason there is a shortage of centers, Rivers said, is they're simply more difficult to create. Not everyone can be a center.
“The first thing is you need to grow,” Rivers said. “That's the one position where, if you don't grow to be 7-feet tall you can't be a center. All of us could be guards.”
AN AVERAGE JOE
Atlanta guard Joe Johnson, a five-time, All-Star, flew under the radar once again at All-Star Weekend. Despite being one of the league's best players and most lethal scorers, Johnson's interview table is always frequented by only a handful of media members.
“I don't attract them,” said the soft-spoken Johnson. “And when I say I don't attract them, it's not about my play on the court. But I think it's all about your perception and how you come off to people. I'm just a quiet, laid back guy. That's just me. You never see me out here trying to get attention. But it doesn't bother me at all. I play the game for the love, not for anything else. That's just the way I was brought up.”
As usual, the NBA All-Star game attracted tons of celebrities, a who's who of musicians, actors and former athletes. The list includes: Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Jack Nicholson, Bill Russell, Steven Tyler, Stevie Wonder, Gene Simmons, Spike Lee, George Lopez, Bruno Mars, John Legend, Mark Curry, Pooch Hall, Keri Hilson, Ciara, Dustin Hoffman, Nick Cannon, Neyo, Warren Beatty, Julius Erving, James Worthy, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Darryl Dawkins, Dominique Wilkins, Rick Fox, Will Perdue, Venus Williams, Kanye West, Ellen Pompeo, Piers Morgan, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte Noah Wyle, Terrell Owens and Snoop Dogg.
Just before the starting lineups were announced, the public address announcer mispronounced teenage music sensation Bieber's name, referring to him as “Berber.”…Before tipoff, the Eastern Conference's starting lineup stood at the scorer's table and all threw powder in the air like LeBron James. …East coach Rivers subbed in all four Celtics All-Stars for the first time with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter. They entered to a chorus of boos. When Ray Allen air-balled his first shot attempt, the crowd erupted into a chant of “Air-ball.”… Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, who scored the first basket in NBA All-Star Game history 60 years ago, was in attendance. …Blake Griffin made his first appearance with 4:21 left in the first quarter. His first alley-oop dunk came on a pass from Deron Williams.