When Stephen Curry dropped 51 on the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday, I had two thoughts. First, there was nothing anyone could have done, Curry was hitting shots from about the Bay Bridge.
Second, it still would have been interesting to see how Rajon Rondo would have impacted that game.
Not only is that question moot,at least a few other teams will get a crack at Rondo-less Dallas. The Mavericks will be without Rondo at least through the All-Star break and maybe longer due to the orbital bone fracture and nasal fracture he suffered recently (when teammate Richard Jefferson inadvertently kneed Rondo in the face).
Dallas made that announcement Friday — Rondo would miss the next three Mavericks games, which takes us through the week-long All-Star break.
But Marc Stein of ESPN says he could be out longer.
Dallas’s defense improves a fairly dramatic 5.2 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court. If they are going to make any dent in the playoffs this season — in what is an unreasonably stacked Western Conference — they need Rondo. They need his defense; they need him to be more comfortably involved in the offense than we have seen so far.
But most of all they need him healthy.
When we talk about the NBA All-Star weekend, it’s usually in relation to how the Saturday Three-Point Contest might be the best event of the three days, or whether Kevin Durant deserves his roster spot.
But for the city where the All-Star Game arrives it is much more than that.
Wherever the game lands the NBA focuses its charity (NBA Cares) and youth outreach efforts, looking to make a difference in the community. However, in New York this year the NBA has stepped up its game:
They will reach 1 million youth in the five boroughs with their program.
The most visible of that is the 100 basketball and fitness clinics in New York schools on Feb. 13, part of the NBA All-Star FIT Celebration on NBA FIT Friday. At every school there will be NBA All-Stars or WNBA players or NBA legends working to engage the youth. Shrug if you want, but trust me as the father of three elementary school age daughters health and fitness issues among our youth is a serious issue, you see it on every campus. There’s good reason it’s the First Lady’s pet project. That this program uses basketball to reach and teach children is fantastic.
This is just part of the league’s outreach.
Also on Friday several NBA All-Stars and celebrity chef Mario Batali (who still should be an Iron Chef in my book) will assist food rescue organization City Harvest to pack 160,000 pounds of food that will be distributed to 10,000 New Yorkers in need.
And the list of outreach events goes on and on, they started way back in September and will continue after the All-Star players have packed up and gone home.
It’s just one side of the All-Star Game that a lot of people miss, but in terms of impact in the community it can be more lasting than the big hoops exhibition itself.
When the NBA coached voted in Kevin Durant as an All-Star reserve there were plenty of people — we’re looking at you, Charles Barkley — who said he didn’t deserve it. Not because of Durant’s talent, but because he’s missed too much time this season due to injury (he’s missed 29 of the Thunder’s 47 games so far).
I’m good with Durant in the All-Star Game (he was on my list as a reserve). It’s an exhibition; there is nothing on the line here. It’s not like the NBA does something stupid and puts home court in the Finals on the line for this popularity contest. So with that, I want to see the very best players in this show. Kevin Durant is one of those, and to me has played enough — and been good enough in the games he played — to make the cut.
What I really want to see: Elite NBA players in a one-on-one tournament. I probably would take Durant in that.