During media appearances earlier in the week, Russell Westbrook said he intended to use the weekend to rest. Fortunately, things didn’t go according to plan.
The Oklahoma City Guard scored 41 points in a 163-158 West victory Sunday night. The performance earned him the 2015 All-Star MVP and left him just one point shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s 53-year-old record for most points in an All-Star Game.
In the final minutes of the game, the MVP found out just how close he was to breaking the record. But he put his team first and his chance to make history second, using the last few minutes of the game to secure a Western Conference win. Still, Westbrook’s dynamic performance was filled with several high-flying dunks — one so high that he even hit his head on the rim!
After the game, LeBron James praised Westbrook as one of the best young talents in the game. He said the only advice he could give is to continue to play like Russell Westbrook.
After suffering some nagging injuries last season, Westbrook cherished the moment.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “You never want to take any games off, especially an All-Star Game, to get a chance to go out and show your talents. I’m blessed to be able to play the game that I love and definitely happy we got the win.
The Gasol brothers made basketball history by becoming the first brothers to ever start in the All-Star Game — and they never showed signs of sibling rivalry. In fact, they were a part of some of the most heartwarming moments of the weekend.
When players were announced prior to the game, a player from one conference was introduced, then a player from the opposing conference was introduced, then the two players shook hands. But when the Gasol brothers were introduced, they wrapped each other in a giant bear hug that left Madison Square Garden saying, “Awwww.”
The brothers also shared a special moment when they faced each other at tip off. Chicago’s Paul Gasol finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Memphis’ Marc Gasol finished with 6 points and 10 rebounds. Now they’ll go back to helping their teams fight for a place in the playoffs.
Steve Kerr Shines…Kind of
One of the best things about being a coach during All-Star Weekend is that you are automatically given a roster filled with the best talent in the NBA, which makes coaching more of an option than a necessity. So though the Golden State Warriors' rookie head coach Steve Kerr was technically in charge of the winning team Sunday night, he was very honest about his preparation and role in the game: There was no plan.
In fact, the only scheme that developed throughout the course of the game was for his team to make a few passes and then someone could score. Plus, with Golden State currently boasting the best record in the Western Conference, Kerr had every reason to take a hands-off approach.
“I had no plan,” Kerr said. “I purposely didn’t want to give away all of our play calls that we make in Oakland. So I was really withholding all of our secrets that we run. So we’re really going to confuse everybody down the stretch.”
News for the Knicks
Perhaps the biggest news from All-Star weekend in the Big Apple involved the New York Knicks. It was announced Sunday night that Amar’eStoudemire reached a buyout agreement, meaning his time in NYC is officially over.
Carmelo Anthony was rumored to be courting players for the home-town team during All-Star Weekend. So of course he was immediately asked about the news following the All-Star festivities.
“Dang, already?” he said. “That’s the first question you [the media] is going to ask me about the weekend?”
But after an underwhelming season in which New York has compiled worst records in the league, Anthony somberly seemed to understand the news after the All-Star Game.
“He wants to play for a championship is what I’m hearing,” Anthony said. “ One of the main reasons I’m a New York Knick today was because of him. To see him leave, to see the situation where it’s at today, I know what he wants and you have to respect that as a competitor. When he came [to New York] he brought excitement to the game of basketball here in New York. There was hope when he came back. People started believing in the Knicks again. He was the main reason for the belief and for that hope.”
Amar'e or no Amar'e, these are still the Knicks, and fans have gotten used to... managing their beliefs and hopes.
Photos: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images (Westbrook), Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images (Gasol brothers), Isaac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images (Stoudemire)