The All-Star Game in 72 thoughts

The weekend in Los Angeles was much ado about nothing … except risk-aversion

Originally Published: February 21, 2011
By Jeff MacGregor |

72. More pregame, please.

71. "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in our All-Stars."
-- Shakespeare

[+] EnlargeBlake Griffin
Robyn Beck/Getty ImagesThat wasn't just any car Blake Griffin leapt in a single bound.

70. Thanks to Darryl Dawkins' suit, your grandmother will never find enough material to finish making that slipcover for the love seat.

69. And our crippling worldwide button shortage will likely deepen.

68. The best thing about being an All-Star? Not having to watch the All-Star Game.

67. In this, The Golden Age of Self and Money, All-Star Games are redundant.

66. I went to bed at halftime. I believe the score was 1,417 to 1,414. The Latinate translation of "All-Star" is "defenseless."

65. At game time Sunday, Encore Westerns was running "How The West Was Won." This I took as prophetic and was proved right, because even Walter Brennan, dead since 1974, could have hung 40 on the NBA East.

64. The correct response to "How The West Was Won" is "It wasn't defense."

63. Josh Groban? Seriously?

[+] EnlargeWalter Brennan
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesEven the late Walter Brennan, also known as Grandpa Amos McCoy, might've managed a double-double.

62. Sixty years ago, barnstorming all-star exhibitions made sense as marketing vehicles for struggling leagues.

61. Now, by highlighting the worst excesses of Platinum-Plated Modern Sports in the Era of Corporate Greed, Jock Narcissism and Unrestrained Celebrity, and by putting risk-aversion front and center, All-Star Games do more harm than good to their league brands.

60. This year's NFL Pro Bowl featured less contact than the Badgley Mischka runway show.

59. Which, given the new science on brain injury, is what NFL game play might look like in 10 years anyway.

58. Without the sequins and the bugle beads.

57. Maybe.

56. Sing it.

55. Sports writers love an(y) All-Star Weekend. What better after an orgy than an orgy of thoughtful moralizing?

54. Including, but not limited to, "You Cannot Buy My Silence With A Muffin Basket," and "A Suburban Exegesis of the Neck Tattoo in Urban Culture," and "I Have Never Personally Been To A Strip Club. Not Ever. Not Once. Not Personally." and "I Blame The Music."

53. Wear it.

52. Buzz Bissinger took the occasion to write something. Thereby creating buzz! Buzz! Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

51. On behalf of the NBA Dunk Contest, Blake Griffin jumped the shark a car.

[+] EnlargeGroban
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty ImagesJosh Groban sang the national anthem. That's right. Josh Groban.

50. And that very car then immediately became an ad on our own front page!

49. Serendipity!

48. It is the "official" car of the NBA.

47. MSRP $18,995.

46. How many NBA players officially drive one?

45. How many NBA players would officially even fit in one?

44. Shouldn't the Official Car of the NBA be a Bentley Continental?

43. MSRP $267,000.

42. Without the power trunk lid.

41. And you'll want a better stereo.

40. And remember to budget for insurance and registration and fuel.

39. But say no to the dealer undercoating.

38. Who'd have thought that baseball's All-Star Game would be left alone as the last stand of meaning among the midseason exhibitions?

37. The Midsummer Classic! Since 1933!

36. But even that's not much of a game -- at least compared with the old days.

[+] EnlargePete Rose
AP PhotoPete Rose and Ray Fosse played baseball's 1970 All-Star Game the manly way.

35. Just ask Ray Fosse.

34. Or Pete Rose.

33. If you have the 20 bucks.

32. (For $199, he'll apologize for betting on baseball.)

31. (For $299, he'll apologize for betting on baseball and paint your house.)

30. But … Home Run Derby!

29. Backbackbackbackbackback!

28.) Perfectly inconsequential! The essential gesture emptied of purpose!

27. A highlight of a highlight of a highlight!

26. Bang! Pow! Zoom!

25. Another three-day sales pitch for distraction!

24. Nothing of value will be put at risk!

[+] EnlargeNicholson
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty ImagesJack Nicholson and his son Raymond were part of a different sort of all-star lineup.

23. A 72-hour wire-to-wire victory for Madison Avenue!

22. Too meta? Sorry.

21. Eat it!

20. In America, it's all about teamwork.

19. Except when it's all about rugged individualism.

18. Which can be confusing.

17. Are there certified accounting All-Stars?

16. Taxidermy All-Stars?

15. Particle physics All-Stars?

14. What about All-Star Escorts of Kenner, La.?

13. "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the All-Stars."
-- Oscar Wilde

12. In a culture that's all stars, how do you know an All-Star?

11. Drop me a note and let me know, please.

[+] EnlargeJustin Beiber
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty ImagesAnd the weekend's real winner is … Wait! Which one of these two characters is the mascot?

10. Hollywood All-Stars?

9. The Hollywood AllStars.

8. Warren, Jack, Spike. On the red carpet!

7. Hollywood! All! Stars!

6. Having lived there for many years, I can tell you that Hollywood is not a real place.

5. It is an idea. An idea made of stucco and particle board and glitter, and built upon a premise of ambition and debasement and cheap gasoline.

4. That's how the West was won. By hitching action to an idea. Too bad it wasn't a better idea.

3. Anyway, back to the game -- I had four assists just sitting here!

2. But the all-star of all All-Stars?

1. Bieber! Bieber! Bieber!

Jeff MacGregor is a senior writer for and ESPN The Magazine. You can e-mail him at, or follow his feed @MacGregorESPN.