By Emmanuel Espinal
February 19, 2018
February 19, 2018 - Yesterday's NBA All-Star game took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California with Lebron James' team defeating Stephen Curry’s team 148-145. "King" James captured his third All-Star Game MVP with his brilliant performance: 51 points/10 rebounds/8 assists. Click HERE for Full Box Score.
As in the past couple of years, the Dominican Republic was well-represented with the additions of Al Horford and Karl-Anthony Towns, who play for the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves respectively. Both Dominican-descended players were selected to play on Team Stephen Curry as reserves. This year, the NBA altered the All-Star game format; team captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry selected their own players from the NBA pool as opposed to those from their corresponding conference, which is why we saw Kevin Durant team-up with "King" James against Curry and other exciting matchups and team-ups.
Towns and Horford played the least amount of minutes for their team, yet made the most of those minutes with their contributions. Tied with teammate Draymond Green in minutes played (18), Towns scored 17 points and led his team in rebounds with 10. Horford played 13 minutes, scored six points, had two assists, and grabbed five rebounds on the stacked Curry team.
The two stars of Dominican basketball found themselves playing together on the same team for the first time since 2012 when they played for the Dominican Republic National Basketball Team. In 2012 they were able to win the Gold Medal for the Dominican Republic in the Centrobasket tournament that was played in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.
Sunday was a historic night as it marked the first time that two players of Dominican descent played in an NBA All-Star Game. Horford has been selected to play in 5 All-Star games (2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2018). Karl-Anthony Towns is the first player of Dominican descent to be selected #1 overall in the NBA Draft (2015). Towns and Horford hoisted the Dominican flag, thus serving as a motive for Dominican pride.
What Led to a Competitive and Successful Game?
One of the questions that have surfaced is why was this year's All-Star Game a success? Sports Illustrated tackled the perplexing question with a series of questions:
"What, exactly, prompted this year’s turnaround in effort and intensity? Was it, as Kyrie Irving suggested, the $350,000 in charity money that went to the winning team? Was it the more balanced rosters which saw James ditch his weak all-East supporting casts of recent years to add Durant, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Paul George from the West? Was it the addition of Embiid and his mouth-watering potential playoff preview? Was it merely guilt after the last two All-Star duds? Pride? Boredom?"
This year's All-Star Game was successful because the all-stars decided to play a competitive game, even though both teams combined for the lowest points (293) since 2013.
Remembering a bit of 2012 with the Dominican National Team
Karl-Anthony Towns had become the youngest player selected to play for the Dominican National Basketball Team. He was one of the most coveted players in the United States, indirectly getting John Calapari to ask for the coaching job in trying to lure him to play for him at Kentucky. Al Horford--husband of former Miss Universe Amelia Vega--had established himself as the best Dominican player in the NBA. Together, Towns and Horford won the Gold Medal in the Centrobasket 2012 tournament played in Puerto Rico and they also played in the Pre-Olympic 2012 tournament in Venezuela.