Michael Jordan turned 50 Sunday. You may have heard about it.
That is, you may have heard of it if you've read any sports-related website or publication the past three days.
Jordan hasn't played in an NBA All-Star Game in a decade. He hasn't
formally participated in All-Star weekend in a decade. He hasn't played
basketball professionally in a decade. But he won the 2013 NBA All-Star
weekend by a large margin.
Jordan's name was everywhere, and his
brand status skyrocketed. His quotes on all sorts of matters - primarily
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James - were ubiquitus fodder for conversation.
His image was everywhere. Seemingly every website on the Internet,
including this one, paid tribute to him. His newest shoe, the Air Jordan
XX8, launched. AARP even gave him a shoutout.
The Charlotte Bobcats didn't have an All-Star this year, but their owner made up for it.
is the greatest basketball player ever, so it makes sense that he led
the winners. Here's who else won and lost this All-Star weekend:
Winner: Chris Paul
Los Angeles Clippers point guard is one of the coolest, most popular
guys in the NBA. But never before has he shone like this. Paul had 20 points and 15 assists to win All-Star Game MVP
one day after captaining the victorious Western Conference Saturday
contest team. And he stayed at the center of the conversation throughout
the weekend, talking up his Clippers teammates and shooting down trade rumors.
Loser: LeBron James
is the kind of weekend James might like to forget. He entered the
All-Star break as the hottest player in the NBA, on a streak of seven
30-point games, all in Heat wins. Then Jordan started talking about how
James is predictable and he'd rather have 34-year-old Bryant. Then James
continued his string of refusing to participate in the dunk contest
even though pretty much everyone wants him to. Then Bryant blocked his shots twice in the All-Star Game
as the West beat his Eastern Conference squad. James finished with 19
points, but he did it on 7-for-18 shooting and committed four turnovers,
and the East was minus 13 during his 30 minutes.
Winner: Kenneth Faried
Denver Nuggets power forward has a reputation for rebounding, but he
did it all Friday night in the rookie-sophomore game. Faried won the game's MVP award after a 40-point effort.
He then put up a pretty sweet off-the-backboard, through-the-legs
second dunk in Saturday's contest, though his first wasn't impressive
enough to advance him to the final round. But the best part of his night
had to be the postgame praise he received Friday night from Hall of
Famers Charles Barkley and Karl Malone, two of the greatest power
forwards ever who called him a star in the making.
Losers: James White and Gerald Green
These guys are dunk specialists and were two of the favorites, along with runner-up Jeremy Evans, in Saturday's slam dunk contest.
Green won the thing in 2007, while White hadn't competed in an NBA
contest but has a long history of impressive showings in contests. They
both had excellent first dunks this year, Green scoring a 50 while White
tacked on a 45-that-should've-been-higher. But they failed on their
second slams, White trying a pair of tricky manuevers from just inside
the free throw line and Green going for an unprecedented double-dunk.
The worst part is Green managed his double-dunk, putting the ball
through a net-less hoop twice in one jump, in his try after time
expired. White doesn't play much for the New York Knicks, while Green is
a rotation backup for the Indiana Pacers. But Saturday was their time
Winner: Kyrie Irving
While James wasn't helping himself, Irving was showing Cleveland Cavaliers fans the potential of their new superstar.
The point guard dominated the rookie-sophomore game to the tune of 32
points, then won the three-point shootout, then had 15 points and four
assists as the most effective East point guard in the All-Star Game.
Loser: Robert Horry
won seven NBA championships, more than even Jordan, in his NBA playing
career. So this probably won't phase the big man. But Horry, a Houston
Rockets legend, put up a pretty pathetic showing in the shooting stars challenge Saturday night.
He might be the worst halfcourt shooter in the contest's history, and
that shot kept Team Westbrook from winning the event in the final round.
Again, though: It's pretty great to be Robert Horry.
Whether it was Craig Sager's suits,
Shaquille O'Neal's antics or Charles Barkley's awesome commentary, TNT
showed why it does the NBA as well as any broadcaster does any sport.
Oh, and Craig Sager's suits. Seriously.