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NBA All-Star Game notebook: Players talking lockout

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: February 20, 2011
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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

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