When the best memes about the 2016 NBA All-Star game have more to do with the slam dunk contest that took place a day earlier, it’s easy to say that the Kobe Bryant retirement appearance didn’t really come off as exciting.
People like to see scoring, but the West scoring 196 points and blowing out the East? The secret to a good All-Star game is a close, dramatic fourth quarter. While the first half was simply about trading shots, the second half should have been about the teams taking it a bit more seriously. But with the Eastern players unable to match the West’s shooting and quality, the fourth quarter turned into a one sided affair, leading to the West’s biggest win since 2009, and their fifth in the last six years.
Bryant himself didn’t do very well. This wasn’t a Magic Johnson type event, with him exciting everyone one last time (although he did return four years later) and stealing the show from everyone. Bryant realized pretty quickly he wasn’t going to steal the show from Russell Westbrook or any of the younger, better players. This night was about him in name only, not in substance.
What people will remember from this All-Star weekend? Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine dueling in the dunk contest, one of the finest in a very long time, maybe since the Jordan vs Dominique days in the 1980’s. There was also Jordan Kilganon dunking while wearing jeans and wowing the NBA players. From the game? A lot of scoring records, but nothing that will last in our memories.