Stoudemire suggested the Suns get Steve Nash over Kobe Bryant

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stoudemire_nash.jpgRight now, everybody wants to play with Kobe Bryant. He’s winning; he’s assumed that “veteran who can lead” mantle (although he likes Derek Fisher around to play good cop to his bad cop).

A few years back, say the summer of 2004, that was not the case. That was the summer that Kobe was a free agent and debating leaving the Lakers (so Jerry Buss shipped Shaq out to Miami). Steve Nash and Jason Kidd were free agents as well.

Amare Stoudemire was the up and coming star in Phoenix, and management came to him asking what he wanted, Stoudemire told Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

“The question ownership asked to me was, ‘Who do I want – Jason Kidd, Steve Nash or Kobe Bryant?’ I said Steve. Over Kobe. At the time, Kobe had a reputation for being selfish and Steve was the ultimate point guard. I felt like that’s what we needed. We had Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion. We just didn’t have a PG to control tempo. Kidd was banged up after microfracture (knee surgery).”

Questions history will never know the answer to include what Kobe would have looked like in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

But the D’Antoni experiment in New York has shown us that his system is dependant on having a really good point guard. Kobe and Amare and Johnson and Marion would have flown up and down the court, but as Stoudemire says who is controlling the tempo? Who is the guy driving the car?

Seems crazy on the surface to choose Nash over Bryant, but for that team at that time it was the right call. Stoudemire saw it. (You can also wonder if Bryant really would have left the Lakers for the Suns, while Mark Cuban let Nash go.)

Which might bode well for the rebuilding going on in New York and the role Stoudemire will play in it.

Team LeBron starts playing defense first, comes from 20 down to win All-Star Game

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s All-Star Game, Team LeBron started to care.

Down 20 at one point early in the third, Team LeBron came out of a mid-quarter timeout with a different energy. The “bench” guys on the court started defending with the kind of relative intensity usually reserved for the final minutes of this exhibition (when it’s close), the players on the bench were standing and cheering like it was a playoff game, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal started knocking down everything, and the game just shifted. It culminated when Damian Lillard tied the game up with a 35-foot three.

Team LeBron kept up the momentum, owned the fourth as Durant went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in the quarter, and Team LeBron got the win 178-164.

“It was our second unit that came in — Dame, Klay, Brad Beal, LaMarcus, Ben Simmons, KAT,” LeBron said after the game about what turned the momentum. “They came in and just changed the whole complexion of the game. We got stops, and, obviously, Dame and Klay caught fire from beyond the arc, and that allowed us to get back in the game.”

Durant was named MVP, a clear choice with his second-half play in particular.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 38 points and 11 rebounds, while Paul George showed anyone that hasn’t seen him this season how well he’s playing — MVP conversation level — on his way to 20.

This All-Star Game opened with the level of defensive intensity we have come to expect in All-Star Games. Which is to say none.

Well, except when Stephen Curry was guarding Klay Thompson.

The one guy who was intense from the start was Antetokounmpo, who scored the first six points for Team Giannis. He didn’t slow down on his way to 20 first-half points, plus he had one of the game’s great highlights on a bounce pass alley-oop from Curry.

Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only Buck hot to start, Khris Middleton entered the game midway through the first quarter and drained three shots from beyond the arc in a row. In the first nine minutes of the game, the Bucks were beating Team LeBron 28-27.

The favorite crowd moment of the first half was when future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki walked on the court and splashed a couple of threes.

Dwyane Wade was the other Commissioner addition to the game, which means for one last time we got Wade throwing the alley-oop to LeBron.

Curry struggled late, going 3-of-11 in the fourth, but he still got to rub it in Thompson’s face a little.

Team Giannis was in control most of the first half and was up 13 (95-82) at the half, not that 13 points is much of a deficit in the All-Star Game. Not when one team started to care.

Stephen Curry gets four-point play after Klay Thompson foul, Curry does some taunting

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stephen Curry is enjoying going against Klay Thompson. Maybe a little too much.

In the first half, Curry was matched up on his Warriors’ backcourt mate and enjoyed that Thompson missed the shot.

Then in the fourth quarter, with the game tight, Curry drained the contested three and drew the and-1 on Thompson — and did a little taunting.

That’s some All-Star fun.

Stephen Curry bounces alley-oop way above rim, Giannis Antetokounmpo slams it down (video)

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CHARLOTTE – Stephen Curry bounced this so high!

I suppose it helps that Giannis Antetokounmpo has such ridiculous reach.

Dirk Nowitzki walks on All-Star court, quickly splashes three threes

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe Dirk Nowitzki shouldn’t retire after this season.

Added to the All-Star Game by Commissioner Adam Silver (along with Dwyane Wade) in what is expected to be the final season for the future Hall of Famer, the greatest shooting big man of all time showed he still has the touch. Entering the game midway through the first quarter, Nowitzki proceeded to quickly splash a couple of threes.

And he was not done yet.

Nowitzki never officially said he was retiring….