File photo of a full moon rising over the New York skyline above 42nd Street, seen from across the Hudson River in Weehawken, New Jersey

It’s official, New York to host 2015 NBA All-Star Game

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We’ve known this was coming for a while but now it is official:

New York City — jointly the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and both the Knicks and Nets — will host the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Wednesday at a press conference in New York.

Brooklyn’s new Barclay’s Center will host the Friday and Saturday night events — the Rising Stars game (rookies and second year players), the skills competition and the Dunk Contest, among other events.

Madison Square Garden will host the 64th All-Star Game itself on Sunday.

“For that weekend, New York will be the capital of the basketball world,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said.

“This will be a unique event in NBA history, to have two teams co-hosting and sharing an All-Star Weekend,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. “Although there are three days of events in the arenas we expect a week long celebration of basketball in the New York area involving all five boroughs.”

“To our friends in Brooklyn, like so many other times when New Yorkers put their differences aside for something bigger, we looking forward to giving our rivalry a rest — for a little bit — to ensure we deliver the very best All-Star experience the league has ever held,” said Knicks owner James Dolan at the press conference. Everyone laughed at that.

Both teams wanted to host the weekend and it took some negotiating and some arm twisting by the league and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to get to this compromise. Part of that is likely the All-Star Game returning to New York a handful of years after this with the roles reversed (Madison Square Garden hosting the preliminary events and the Barclay’s Center the main game).

“I don’t want to kill our leverage in negotiations, so I’m not going to say (that the game is certainly coming back to NYC), but given the cooperation and era of good will that this entire endeavor has delivered to us I don’t think it’s going to be a problem to have it here again and again and again if the league and the other owners want to do it,” Stern said.

While the situation is a little odd with co-hosting NBA is such a basketball Mecca that this event could be special. Even now players get up for games in New York — you ever watch Kobe Bryant at Madison Square Garden? — so the game has some real potential. And maybe even the dunk contest won’t suck.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.