Rabalais: All-Star Game more about show than game

Nobody comes to an NBA All-Star Game to see a game.

A game has defense, strategy, and if you’re lucky, some memorable drama.

At an NBA All-Star Game, you come to see a magic show.

Levitation. Sleight of hand. And if you’re lucky — and you usually are — more than a few moments that make you say, “I know there’s an explanation for it, but how did they do that?”

Here were a few memorable sights and sounds from the 63rd annual NBA All-Star Game:

Say, Uncle: Uncle Drew couldn’t have done it any better.

Kyrie Irving’s aged alter ego from the Pepsi commercials would have been proud to own the Cleveland Cavalier’s stat line Sunday night: 31 points, 14 assists.

From All-Star Weekend Rising Star MVP to All-Star Game MVP in two short years, Irving embodies the NBA’s youth moment of budding superstars just over a month shy of his 22nd birthday.

It was nice to hear the former Duke star taking this All-Star thing the right way: as a seriously good time.

“I watched so many past All-Star Games,” Irving said. “Those guys were really trying to go at one another. I just wanted to give the fans what they wanted.”

The only thing he needs to work on is the proper way to hoist the MVP trophy.

Uncle Drew would probably have something to say about that. And it wouldn’t be a shock if Irving gets another chance.

Man of iron: Portland TrailBlazers guard Damian Lillard was the hardest-working All-Star this weekend, competing in the Rising Stars game, three Saturday night events (skills challenge, 3-point contest, slam dunk contest) and Sunday’s All-Star Game. And he still looked more awake on the bench than the Lakers’ Chris Kaman.

Beat the tweet: Trying to post a few thoughts during a game in which both teams cracked 100 points midway through the third quarter is a losing proposition. I tried to tweet about New Orleans Pelicans’ all-star Anthony Davis’ first All-Star Game basket during the third quarter. Before I could finish typing, he’d added a pair of rim rattling dunks to his initial 18-foot jumper.

Legends of the ball: Personally, the best part of being at All-Star Weekend was seeing the basketball legends of my youth up close and personal, most of them for the first time.

The list was almost endless: Magic Johnson, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, Artis Gilmore, George “The Iceman” Gervin, Calvin Murphy and Rick Barry just to skim the highlights. Shaquille O’Neal was of course here, but he started at LSU a year after me, so he doesn’t count in the “Heroes of my Youth” department.

And as for the current all-stars, they’re great, but I have shoes older than John Wall.

Between the first and second quarters, Magic got the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to NBA uber-legend Bill Russell, who turned 80 last week, as he sat courtside.

Very cool moment. The only thing sad about it was the fact that New Orleans Jazz and LSU great Pete Maravich only made it halfway to 80, never living to see the All-Star Game played here. You have to believe if he was still with us, basketball’s ultimate showman would have been a big part of the NBA’s biggest show.

Miles of celebrities: The All-Star Game always attracts a large slice of the pop culture population.

Sunday night, the list included LSU coach Les Miles. Maybe he rode over in a limo with his friend and fellow Baton Rouge Rotary Club guest speaker, Snoop Dogg.

It was amusing seeing actor Chris Tucker in a Dance Cam war on the video board with some roving concession guy. Music-makers like Drake; Nelly; Ludacris; and Earth, Wind and Fire would have made the All-Star Game a heck of a concert on its own.

But the paparazzi caught Miles hobnobbing courtside with luminaries like Spike Lee and Mark Cuban, proving even at a big show like the NBA All-Star Game, The Hat is always a showstopper.

Silver streak: Looked over during one time out and saw new NBA Commish Adam Silver sprinting up the midcourt steps. Secret idea (don’t tell anyone): Silver, Roger Goodell, Gary Bettman and Bud Selig in a match race. On pay-per-view.

Star-Mangled Banner: Sorry, but Gary Clark Jr.’s guitar version of the Star Spangled Banner was mostly brutal. It did remind one that the anthem’s tune is from an olde English drinking shanty. He gave a good impression of what the song must have sounded like after about eight pints.

Oh, Canada: By comparison, Serena Ryder’s soulful rendition of “O Canada” was hauntingly beautiful. We have eight times more people and about 2,000 more Olympic medals than our northern neighbors, but the Canadians’ anthem is the best — Eh.

That reminds me: If Goodell ever gets his secret wish and moves a franchise to London, will we hear “God Save the Queen” at NFL games?

The last word: Got to give it to Mr. Christopher Brian Bridges (Ludacris) when asked how he was enjoying All-Star Weekend in the Big Easy.

“Having a great time,” Ludacris said. “It’s a party town, and the party don’t stop.”

Indeed it does not, Christopher. While we’re sad to see bid the NBA all-stars adieu, the end of one big event in New Orleans just means it’s time to get ready for the next one.

The teams for the first College Football Playoff semifinal in the Sugar Bowl roll into town in about 10 months.

Like the man said, the party does not stop around here.