Four. Of all the players here for the NBA’s All-Star festivities, the 24 players in Sunday’s game and 24 in Friday’s Rising Stars game, the four participants in the Slam Dunk Contest, the eight shooters in the 3-Point Contest and eight ball handlers in the Skills Challenge — 68 players altogether — just four represented this city’s two franchises, the Lakers and the Clippers. Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram of the Lakers were in the Rising Stars game. For the Clippers, Lou Williams was in the Skills Challenge, and Tobias Harris was in the 3-Point Contest. That’s it. Never has an All-Star Game held in Los Angeles — there were five before this — been so light on LA presence, especially with a proud franchise like the Lakers here. In every Los Angeles All-Star Game before this one, there have been at least two Lakers, and in the 2011 game, Blake Griffin represented the Clippers. Three times, the MVP of the LA All-Star Game was a Laker (Jerry West in 1972, Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 and Kobe Bryant in 2011). There is something plain weird about being in Los Angeles for a celebration of the best of pro basketball and finding so few players from the LA franchises among the best. The only solace, perhaps, is that there are a handful of players with Los Angeles roots on hand. “It is different,” O’Neal told Sporting News this weekend. “You got guys from LA, like (DeMar) DeRozan and Russell Westbrook, and I am sure they are going to try to put on a show. I know I would if I was them, and you have family members there, you have all your people there. It’s a great opportunity to make a name for themselves. “There are going to be a lot of superstars here, and that was always my focus. I would come and see people, and say, ‘Oh s—, Jack (Nicholson is) here? Denzel (Washington is) here? Give me the ball. Let me go to work.’ Those guys should do that.” But those guys don’t play for the two LA teams. Not yet, at least. If there was a highlight for the local fan base this weekend, it comes mostly from hopes and dreams, from free-agent fantasies.
All-Stars shine in LA, leaving Lakers, Clippers wondering who might return
Sporting News | Feb 18