The NBA All-Star Game is coming up Feb. 18 in Los Angeles, and not a single Bulls player will be there.
Well, one of them might be in the stands, eating cotton candy or hawking old Michael Jordan T-shirts. But this is the first time in nine years no Bulls player was selected to play in the game itself.
Remember recent All-Stars Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng? Even Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah?
Hang on to those memories, folks. It might be awhile before another Bulls player gets picked, unless rookie Lauri Markkanen continues his ascent or the Bulls draft a budding superstar or trade for an established one.
There have been droughts like this before for the Bulls. After Jordan left town in the wake of the 1997-98 championship season, the franchise went 12 years without an All-Star until Rose played in the 2010 game.
RELATED STORIES The latest on the Bulls-Pelicans trade talks for Nikola Mirotic Dennis Rodman charged with DUI; blood-alcohol more than double the limit: report
With any luck, the Bulls will have a player good enough to be an All-Star by the time the game is played at the United Center in 2020, 32 years after the game last was held in Chicago. It would be kind of embarrassing if the global circus came to town and the Bulls didn’t at least have a clown or a dancing bichon frise in the ring, right?
Be that as it may, what was embarrassing about the All-Star selection this year was the incredible missed opportunity by the NBA to entertain the masses in a way even Stephen Curry’s rainbow three-pointers can’t. That is, the selection process itself — who will play on which team and for which captain — was done in private. No TV, radio, podcast, Instagram, nothing.
This fascinatingly retro and potentially ego-demolishing event occurred on a conference call between vote leaders/captains LeBron James and Curry, with the pair choosing their All-Star teammates just like kids always have when the playground ball is rolled out for recess: You pick, then I pick, then you pick, then I pick, etc., until even the most uncoordinated kid in the world has been chosen.
How amazing this thing would have been to witness, with image-conscious multimillionaires choosing other fantastically egocentric and wealthy athletes, many with egos as easily bruised as tiny plums. As it is, the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was teased by his Oklahoma City teammates and apparently was genuinely miffed that he was the last pick taken by Curry for Team Stephen.
Then it was pointed out to Westbrook that the lists were in alphabetical order and that ‘‘W’’ comes after, say, ‘‘C’’ for DeMarcus Cousins (more on him later) and that ‘‘We’’ even comes after ‘‘Wa’’ for John Wall (more on him, too).
We only can speculate about whether linguistic fact soothes Westbrook or whether he will try to go out and score 100 points (he scored 27 in 11 minutes of the first half of the 2015 game) to get back at the injustice of the world.
As you might know, Cousins (out for the season after tearing an Achilles tendon Friday) and Wall (out an estimated six to eight weeks after injuring his knee Sunday) had to be replaced by Paul George and Andre Drummond, respectively. That was commissioner Adam Silver’s decision, based on players who got the most coaches’ votes but weren’t selected as reserves.
But that’s boring news.
How about if Curry and James were on multiple cameras, and every player with a chance of being chosen was in the room — or at least hooked up to a TV monitor — as the captains walked back and forth in front of a huge Las Vegas-style gambling screen, replete with the other players’ names and stats? Everyone would be looking on live or staring into monitors, perhaps with tearful children, girlfriends and manicurists at their sides, all while Curry and James wondered about things such as Nike deals, possible MVP competitors, clients of their agents, real teammates, vacation pals and, of course, players they genuinely can’t stand.
We love humiliating competition shows involving singing, dancing, worm-eating, even naked fire-building. So why not ‘‘Vanity of the Stars,’’ presented by the NBA? Watching a star exit weeping in despair or shaking a finger in silent rage in threatened revenge would be better than a 200-198 score, which might happen anyway.
The NBA, the agents and the players’ association somehow couldn’t get this gem together for us. If they can’t figure it out by next year, maybe a Bull non-All-Star can help them with their planning.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.