To make the diary more relatable, I watched the ABS-CBN Sports and Action coverage of the game with long-time partners Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc as commentators. Plus, it’s easier to make fun of local TV commercials and plugs.
9:00 – THE ROOTS! The Roots are playing! This All-Star Game is already off to a good start.
9:05 – Early realization: Michael B. Jordan can rap. The quality of his voice is excellent. Perhaps he can do voice-overs for the NBA too like Terrence Howard and Ludacris before. He’s better at acting though. If you thought he was good in Creed, go watch Fruitvale Station. You’re welcome.
9:08 – There’s a terrible lack of dancing in the player introductions. Only LeBron James, swaying and bobbing his head to the beat, did anything close to dancing among the East guys.
The Roots should’ve made a short rap verse for all the All-Stars in the player introductions. That would’ve been real cool. Like “Kemba Walker, chuck the ball in the air. Shoot it like you just don’t care.” Or something way better than that.
9:15 – It’s now the West players’ turn to be introduced. Russell Westbrook should’ve gone to the starters’ section of the stage. He should’ve smugly stood there with arms folded as a form of protest. He really should be starting instead of Steph Curry.
Black Thought should’ve made a more specific, scathing introduction for Kevin Durant. Perhaps: “At 6-foot-9, an eight-time All-Star, the player who once said he’ll never leave Oklahoma City but did so anyway because he terribly wants his first ring and now acts like he did nothing wrong, KEVIN DURAAAAAAANT!”
9:22 – Again, still no dancing. I miss those choreographed dances from the All-Stars before, especially Tim Duncan’s awkward, tito jiggy.
9:23 – The singing of the national anthems of Canada and the United States. I like how politically correct the announcer was when he said, “Now, please stand up if you are able for the singing of the national anthems.”
9:24 – The singer for the “Star-Spangled Banner” is announced: New Orleans artist John Batiste. A few seconds later, the camera cuts to John Legend. Just because they have the same first names? Was John Legend supposed to be excited or amused about this? Where’s John Stockton? John, my grade school batchmate?
9:25 – Shrieks all over the Smoothie King Arena–the most unintimidating sports arena name ever–because Jayonce were shown. That’s Jay-Z and Beyonce in case you’re not well-versed in celebrity couples mashed-up names. DJ Khaled is already trying to get Jayonce’s twins for his new song.
9:26 – Batiste performs a clean, soulful rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The National Commission for Culture and Arts is already drafting a complaint because it wasn’t sung traditionally.
9:27 – The starters are once again introduced with a fantastic mood-setting video. Kyrie Irving is dubbed as “The Ankle-Taker,” while Kawhi Leonard is the “Quiet Killa.” Such cool nicknames! The opposites of Jio “The Bus Driver“ Jalalon and Sol “The Sol Train” Mercado.
Just a few minutes before tip-off. Will Brodie clap when KD makes a basket? Will James Harden tally 60 assists? Will Melo get traded in the middle of the second quarter? How many fingernails will LeBron eat? Will Draymond Green set the NBA All-Star Game record for most crotches kicked? So many important questions.
9:29 – Boom and TJ introduce themselves. Such an enviable job. I’m quite sure the NBA experience never gets old for them no matter how long they’ve been doing it. There’s truly nothing quite like it.
11:45 – Anthony Davis makes the first basket. Only appropriate for NOLA’s own to kick off the scoring. West, 2-0.
11:33 – Kawhi steals the ball and goes for a dunk. If there’s one player who looks out of place in the All-Star Game, it’s Kawhi. It’s as if he’s allergic to the one-on-one nature of the game. Not to mention, no defense! At this young point of his career, he’s already gained first name status like LeBron, Steph, Kobe, etc. No one calls him Leonard. West, 4-0.
11:19 – Giannis Antetokounmpo makes his first ever All-Star basket. Such an amazing story. From selling watches, bags, and sunglasses in the streets of Greece, he’s now among the NBA elite. Here are the players picked before him in 2013: Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, KCP, Trey Burke, CJ McCollum, MCW, Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk, and Shabazz Muhammad. None of them are All-Stars. West, 4-2.
11:18 – TJ points out the minutes issue for LBJ, who leads the league in floor time. Will he play heavy minutes, especially when it gets interesting in the fourth quarter? Or will he sit out most of the game? If I’m Brad Stevens, I’ll unapologetically play LeBron for 48 minutes so he won’t get his rest and feel tired by the time Boston and Cleveland battle on March 1.
11:08 – Right on cue, LeBron makes a three-pointer. East, 5-4
09:14 – Steph drains his second three-pointer. Maybe he’s looking to atone for his embarrassing stint from the half-court line during All-Star Saturday. The stunt was ill-conceived though, IMHO. It was doomed to fail. West, 14-10.
08:32 – The Greek Freak steals the ball from Harden and makes a thunderous slam. Maybe he isn’t aware that defense is not allowed in the first three quarters of the All-Star Game. Learn, young grasshopper. West, 16-14.
07:20 – Three straight throwdowns from KD, DeMar DeRozan, and AD. If this was in the Philippines, the crowd would be ballistic by now–as in tulo-laway, putok-tigyawat, basa-kili-kili kind of excitement–since Filipinos easily get excited about dunks. Even Karl Malone’s corny hand-behind-the-head trademark slam will look like a Vince Carter reverse 360. Tied at 20-20.
06:50 – LeBron shakes hand and chats with Jay-Z while Giannis is taking free throws. If I was there in New Orleans, I would by ballistic by now–as in tulo-laway, putok-tigyawat, basa-kili-kili kind of excitement.
06:07 – Westbrook is in the game! And KD stays on the floor!!!! I repeat: BRODIE AND KD ARE ON THE FLOOR TOGETHER!!!!! THIS IS NOT FAKE NEWS!
05:15 – Westbrook badly misses his dunk attempt. The ball ricochets off the rim. Is he too pumped up? Did he visualize the ring as KD’s agape mouth?
04:58 – Westbrook passes the ball to KD! KD LOBS IT BACK TO WESTBROOK!!! ALLEY-OOP CONNECTIOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BOOM SHAKALALAKA!!!!!! LOVE WINS!!!!!!! RUSHANVITKAZEBUBUM!!! I had to make up a new word just to describe how awesome that was! Somewhere out there, OKC general manager Sam Presti has a tear in his eye. West, 31-28.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 20, 2017
4:47 – Sad moment. KD gets substituted by Marc Gasol. Just when we’re still high from that WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP (it feels like it should be written in all-caps), KD gets pulled out. Stop playing with our emotions, Steve Kerr! West calls timeout. West, 34-28.
The game should’ve ended after the WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP. Just hit the final buzzer so we can now all go back to our normal lives in this flat, Kyrie-sian Earth.
Boom and TJ are as giddy as 16-year-old boys at the Playboy Mansion talking about the WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP. Who can blame them? I’m giddy too.
Several NBA mascots are dancing in the yearly sideshow called NBA Mascots Dancing. It has become an annual thing. Like someone saying “It’s over!” during the Dunk Contest. Some of the guys inside the mascots, however, aren’t as silly and goofy in real life. In 2010, I had the chance to work with Burnie, the Miami Heat mascot, for an NBA event and the guy playing him was quite reserved and calm. He didn’t talk much and just did his job.
2:35 – Gordon Hayward makes his first ever All-Star basket. I’ve always liked him since his days at Butler (and also workhorse Matt Howard). He’s smart, athletic, and deceivingly tough. But I never pictured him to be an All-Star. I thought he would be a great complementary player at best. West, 39-38.
1:39 – Westbrook misses back-to-back dunks. He should’ve entered the Dunk Contest.
End of the 1st quarter: East, 53-48
The West bench is shown celebrating and teasing Westbrook and KD after their WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP. Such a fun, genuine moment. The players look like high school students cajoling their buddy to hold hands with his new girlfriend.
Surprisingly, no “Wow!” yet from TJ. He has a propensity to say “Wow!” during basketball coverage.
Also, sadly, no commercials yet. Instead, ABS-CBN Sport and Action shows the arena gimmicks during lulls in the game. The Pelicans have the “Wheel of Cams.” There’s a “Robot Dance Cam,” a “Dab Cam,” and a “Dancing Mom Cam” (predictably, Golden State’s Crazy Dancing Mom was shown). Here’s my question though: Why no “Ulalam Cam”?
TNT’s Inside Trax segment rolls. Steph adorably asks “What just happened?” while seated on the bench after the WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP. Kawhi, meanwhile, sitting beside Steph, has zero reactions. Just a blank face staring into the court. Maybe wondering what he’ll do when the guy who fixes his cornrows suddenly dies. It’s an actual existential question.
12:00 – Melo, Kemba and DeAndre Jordan check into the game for the first time. Still no sign of Boogie. Did he mess up in practice? Did he arrive late for the game? Did he have too much gumbo, beignets, and Sazerac the night before?
In the spirit of The Big Easy and the good ol’ tradition of the Mardi Gras, who among the All-Stars should flash his boobs? If you have an answer in mind, you have a serious problem.
11:58 –Melo looks disinterested. He explicitly said being chosen as a last-minute replacement was a “downer” since had to cancel his trip in Cuba and Puerto Rico. He, however, isn’t the first one to feel displeasure over the same situation. I remember a few years back, Rasheed Wallace also expressed his disappointment after being named to replace Kevin Garnett. Incidentally, that All-Star Weekend was also in New Orleans!
10:55 – DeAndre makes his first ever All-Star basket. He also had to cancel his vacation in Hawaii after being named to the midseason showcase. But unlike Melo and Sheed, he was happy to do so. East, 57-52.
10:11 – Draymond high fives Westbrook after Westbrook makes his first of two free throws. Watch out, Thunder. Draymond might be deviously recruiting Russ too. I have a feeling Westbrook will put up a quintuple-double and commit six fouls just out of sheer spite.
08:55 – Boogie finally enters the game for his Rio Olympics BFF Draymond. He was immediately called for a technical foul.
07:31 – DeAndre clanks a three-pointer. I’ve been saying this for the longest time, there should be a three-point shootout for the league’s most awful shooters. Make it happen in 2018: DeAndre, Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, Tristan Thompson, and Hassan Whiteside. Tell me that wouldn’t be interesting.
06:55 – David Aldridge interviews LeBron from the bench. LeBron says he advised the first-time All-Stars to “have fun.” In your estimation, how many times was the word “fun” said the entire All-Star Weekend? 500? 5,000? 457696782101193?
05:20 – West calls timeout.
Finally, a commercial! Derek Ramsay’s Tanduay spot. There’s a “Pare, pulis ako” joke somewhere there.
After just one commercial, ABS-CBN Sports and Action cuts back to the Smoothie King Arena. The Pelicans also have a “Flex Cam.” Obviously, it was ripped off from the PBA’s Stanley Power Tools Man of the Game.
04:42 – David Aldridge interviews Westbrook from the bench. Of course, he asks about the WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP. Brodie simply dismisses it as a good give-and-go play. He didn’t even mention KD’s name. TJ promptly says, “We’re getting there.”
03:45 – LeBron sinks three-pointer from near the half-court line. Steph immediately had a black-and-white, slow-mo flashback of All-Star Saturday.
03:04 – Giannis makes back-to-back baskets, the second one coming from another steal on The Beard. Apparently, the No Defense First rule doesn’t go well with the Greek Freak. Like Thousand Island dressing on a beef gyro. West, 83-81.
02:11 – East calls timeout. How much coaching actually happens in an All-Star Game? Do coaches still diagram plays? O baka nagdodrowing lang sila nung bukid na may mga ulap tsaka rainbow sa white board?
I suddenly realize I miss Dirk Nowitzki in the All-Star Game.
Several former All-Star Game MVPs were honored, including Allen Iverson, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, Bob Pettit, etc. George Gervin looks like Yoyong Martirez. NAGPAPALIWANAG LANG!
01:59 – LeBron makes off-the-backboard pass and dunk AKA the Tracy McGrady Special. East, 88-85.
Boom says 150 NBA legends are present in the All-Star festivities this year. It’s truly amazing how the NBA takes care of its former stars. The league always keeps them involved in various events. The NBA even has a trust fund for former players.
00:04 – Curry misses half-court shot. He’s now 0-of-382638595050 from half-court since All-Star Saturday.
End of the 1st half: West, 97-92.
David Aldridge interviews KD and of course, he asks about the WESTBROOK-KD ALLEY-OOP. KD simply calls it a “great play” and “great pass, great finish.” I understand. They’re still undergoing the dreaded Five Stages of Grief. I think they’re in the Bargaining Stage.
Still no “Wow!” from TJ. I’m mildly disappointed.
John Legend performs during halftime. It was okay.
TNT shows a nice music video of memorable All-Star moments (Magic’s farewell shot in 1992, MJ’s last All-Star Game, Larry Bird winning the three-point shootout, etc.) to the tune of a Flo Rida song. My favorite NBA All-Star moment of all-time? Everything with Penny Hardway in it.
Boom and TJ go into full batian portion mode. Announcers/commentators greeting their family and friends on live TV or radio is unique to Philippine sports. Sure, foreign guys do shout-outs too, but they can’t hold a candle or in this case, a microphone, to Pinoys.
11:44 – Giannis starts the second half scoring for the East. He really feels comfortable in his first All-Star Game. Totally unlike Jamaal Magloire in 2004. Jamaal Magloire! West, 97-94.
I wonder when Kerr will field in his four Warriors. Plus, who will be the fifth guy? I vote for Marc Gasol so the court smarts and passing will be at par with the four Dubs. Also, to make the Warriors realize how horrible JaVale McGee is.
10:47 – Gasol snares the defensive rebound and awkwardly dribbles the length of the court for a lay-up. He looks like those old, lumbering dudes you see in afternoon pick-up games. West, 100-96.
9:38 – Giannis steals the ball from Harden for the third time and does an emphatic windmill dunk! Does he have personal animosity towards Harden? Is he jealous of his beard? Is he showing Harden how to play defense? Steph also lies on the floor to avoid being posterized. A wise, veteran move. West, 104-103.
09:12 – The Unibrow makes another dunk. It looks like his teammates want him to win the MVP award. And yeah, he should try. Do it for the home crowd, AD! But then, I also want Westbrook to become the first ever three-time reigning All-Star MVP. On that note, who’s the unlikeliest player to ever win the award? My vote is Glen Rice in 1997 (edging MJ despite the first-ever triple-double in the All-Star Game). West, 106-103.
08:42 – Boom utters the most used phrase in All-Star Game history: “Defense will be played in the fourth quarter.” Happens every year.
08:25 – Giannis blocks Steph’s dunk attempt, much to the chagrin of the crowd. Steph wasn’t too happy about it though. TJ says with the rhyming acumen of Chance the Rapper: “Giannis, nakakainis.”
07:18 – There it is! The four Warriors on the court together. Somewhere out there, Zaza Pachulia is screaming: “I SHOULDA BEEN DERRRRRRRR!” AD is the fifth guy, BTW.
06:50 – Boom shares an interesting note that NBA scoreboards can’t go all the way to 200. It resets to zero when it hits 199. Surprising, isn’t it? Considering today’s technology. As TJ would say: “Wow!”
05 :40 – TNT’s Inside Trax again. Kerr asks his non-Warriors players for plays they run on their respective teams (i.e. He asks Harden how they free up Eric Gordon for a three-pointer). Funny stuff. He really has a terrific sense of humor. Very clever and dry.
04:13 – Giannis dunks all over Steph off a missed shot. So much for not being posterized. Draymond hilariously reacts by putting both his hands on his head like he’s in shock. DeAndre promptly makes a stank face. Steph should’ve continued lying on the floor. West, 126-120.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 20, 2017
03:09 – Steph finally gets his dunk. He didn’t need any drones. East calls timeout. West, 130-122.
Second commercial of the game! Coco Martin’s Cobra spot. I suddenly remember that sweet pick-up line:
Boy: “Energy drink ka ba?”
Boy: “Mukha ka kasing Cobra.”
02:53 – Westbrook re-enters the game. But sadly, KD exits. Such a poignant scene. Their first quarter rendezvous was a fleeting bromance. I could hear Adele singing at the top of her voice in the background: “WE COULD HAVE HAD IT AAAAALLLLLLL…”
01:39 – East grabs the lead after back-to-back treys from Kyle Lowry. I realize this is the first time I mention K-Low. East, 132-130.
00:15 – The East’s lead didn’t last long. Westbrook goes on berserker barrage mode and sinks four three-pointers to score 12 of the West’s last 14 points. He does a circular motion with both of his hands to his ear ala Hulk Hogan, as if saying the crowd’s cheers aren’t loud enough. The camera should’ve cut away to KD. West, 144-139.
End of the 3rd quarter: West, 144-139.
Still no “Wow!” from TJ, which makes me slightly surprised and say “Wow!” in my head.
The Dunk Elite guys (Jordan Kilganon, Jus Fly, etc. ) perform dunks during the break. Their routines are getting a little bit old though. Time to think of new dunks. Maybe dunk over a bitter ex-girlfriend with the current girlfriend tossing the ball off the backboard. Or something along those lines.
11:48 – Westbrook drains another three-pointer. As his mantra says, WHY NOT? West, 147-139.
10:48 – Isiah Thomas makes reverse lay-up. I realize this is the first time I mention IT. Will Mr. Fourth Quarter take over the game? Or will Stevens rest his precious playmaker? Also, why isn’t there a Mr. First Quarter? Someone who gets hot at the start of the game. That should count for something, right? In the PBA, Mr. First Quarter would be Dudut Jaworski. Because he only plays in the first quarter. West, 147-145.
08:48 – Westbrook makes another dunk. Boom says he’s now scored 40 points in less than 20 minutes. And FINALLY, TJ says “Wow!” AD, meanwhile, has also tallied 38 points. The All-Star Game scoring record is 42 by Wilt Chamberlain. Official timeout. West, 159-153.
There’s still no semblance of defense even though it’s the fourth quarter already. It’s actually getting a little dull and predictable.
Derek Ramsay’s Tanduay commercial again. Among all the local celebrities, who do you think you can demolish in a one-on-one drinking challenge? I pick Erik Santos.
06:47 – Harden accidentally swishes a 40-foot jumper, which was really an intended alley-oop pass. I once again think about how insanely formidable OKC could’ve been if everyone stuck together. I know it’s nearly impossible, but still: KD, Westbrook, Harden, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Reggie Jackson, Jeff Green, Dion Waiters, Thabo Sefolosha. Presti sure has an eye for talent.
05:44 – AD makes back-to-back dunks to break Wilt’s scoring record with 44 points. Still no sign of LeBron. West, 174-162.
05:33 – Steph re-enters the game for Westbrook. Perhaps Kerr didn’t want Brodie to snatch the MVP title away from AD.
03:16 – Melo sinks a three-pointer. It’s a little crazy to think that Melo is now the oldest All-Star at age 32. This will sound tragically cliché, but it really feels like it was just a few years ago when Melo was among the up-and-coming marquee guys. Thirteen years in the league and still no ring? That’s like being in the same desk job for 13 years and not winning any Christmas party raffle. Or not. West, 183-173.
Sorry, Boom, that overly used phrase “Defense will be played in the fourth quarter” isn’t apt. Clearly in this game, defense will still not be played in the fourth quarter.
02:47 – AD hits 50. Not that impressive though since the defense is as tight as a bacon brief. West, 185-173.
00:00 – I didn’t take notes anymore in the final few minutes because the game got tedious without the competitiveness and desire of the players. I just focused on eating my lunch of batchoy and rice instead. I feel like that’s an important detail in this diary.
Final score: West, 192-182.
AD is the clear choice for All-Star Game MVP after shattering the old scoring record with 52 points. But I feel like I was cheated. Bamboozled in a deal. It feels like they just let him get the record for the heck of it. He was hardly challenged. If I was AD, I wouldn’t be too proud. He’ll win the season MVP trophy soon though. I predict he’ll take home at least two in his career. You heard it here first!
What a night for the hometown kid!
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 20, 2017
The game was a letdown overall. The players just piled up the points. Where’s the spirit of competition? With the kind of token seriousness being shown in the past three editions, I wouldn’t be surprised if more scoring records will be broken in the coming years. Maybe someone will try to get 60 next year. Hopefully, it will be more hard-earned.
Now, time to call Erik Santos.
[Photo from NBA; video from YouTube; tweets from NBA on TNT]