Sunday’s South Florida All-Star Classic was the grandest of the NBA exhibitions to date, but it was nonetheless a single game in a series of similar contests. The summer of pro-am hoops has stretched into the fall of pro-am hoops, so much so that the idea for the next big exhibition game took mere moments to spawn following the conclusion of the Sunday’s festivities.
Nothing is set in stone, but Anthony believes he, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and friends will stage a big exhibition in the Big Apple.
“We’re going to keep giving back,” Anthony said.
On his Twitter account yesterday, Anthony started banging the drums for his Big Apple charity-fest. “Working on an epic exhibition charity game in NYC,” he wrote. “Showtime. I’m comin’ home.”
I certainly won’t argue with charity; the more Anthony, James, et al can raise for a good cause, the better. There is a linear payoff in getting funding and supplies to organizations and people in need, and it’s terrific that this group of players will be able to generate money to benefit others.
That said, we’re well past exhibition fatigue at this point. Basketball fans have become accustomed to a certain standard, and honestly, the level of basketball being played is only one component of that standard. The NBA is a league that hosts competitive games, but it also hosts a conversation. There’s an active, evolving discourse that gravitates around the game, and that just isn’t possible with a series of exhibitions. It’s great that NBA players are involved in basketball in some public capacity during the ongoing lockout, but these exhibitions provide a two-dimensional substitute for a three-dimensional product. It’s basketball, and basketball involving some of the NBA’s most incredible stars, at that. But it’s a brand of basketball that separates the sport from its deeper value.
There will always be something in that bouncing ball, regardless of setting. Just don’t expect ten players — even ten of the best players — and a hoop to recapture what has granted NBA basketball its magic. These games don’t even hit in the same register as the NBA game, much less reach the same notes; exhibition basketball lives in the absence of nuance, and as a result, distills a beautiful game to nice dunks and gaudy stats. It’s fun, but broad fun, devoid of the character that makes the NBA the best sports league on the planet.
So do your thing, Melo. Shoot some hoops, donate some money to charity, and give back to the fans who dig this kind of thing. But the rest of us are still waiting, and these contests don’t do much to satiate our specific hunger.