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August 15, 2013
All-Star Games. Are You Really Elite?
Elite All-Star games are an interesting phenomenon. Many basketball purists despise all-Star games in general for their lack of defense and traditional hoop values but a lot can be learned by how elite players perform when put on the spot against other elite players.
Many top players are stars on their respective high school teams not because they're necessarily elite stars but because they are the best player on their team. While that team as a whole may, in fact, be sub-par, the top player is lulled into the false illusion that because they are the star of their team they must also be a national star. This is simply not always true.
Furthermore, some players that are really good will inexplicably defer when pitted against or with players of equal or superior talent. Sometimes players even defer to players with stronger personalities who are of lesser talent. All these variables come into play when elite players play in an all-star game setting.
While there is no real defense until the final minutes of a close game, some players rise to the occasion while other fall back. Oftentimes spectators are left scratching their head about their favorite player asking, "Why didn't so-and-so take over? I know he's better than so-and-so." It goes back to that primitive instinct among most living things whether its dogs, fish, lions or people. There's always those who will lead and those who will follow and that holds true even when leaders get together.
In Saturday's Big Strick Classic, while a few players on each team lived up to their hype , clearly Isaiah Briscoe (11 points & 9 assists) was the overall top dog even though he didn't score the most points. In the 3rd and 4th quarters, he put a struggling Team NYC on his back and led them to victory while his teammates followed his lead. Because there's really no defense, most participants were able to score enough points to save face but Elite All-Star games are not about saving face but about making a statement
I usually give a pass to underclassmen in their first Elite All-Star game scenario that's predominately composed of upper classmen. They are allowed to be a deer in the headlights one time. Freshmen and sophomores are to get mad props if they exceed expectations and run the show. Conversely, elite juniors and seniors are expected to be elite, especially when amongst other elite players.
Elite all-star games, truth be told, are more like college than high school. As stated earlier, most top players are simply the best on their high school team; some are the best in the city and a few are the best in the state. In college however, players have been recruited nationally so that top high school player is now amongst other top high schools players, fighting for the top spots. Usually the guy who steps up in an elite all-star game setting is also the guy who steps up in an elite college setting.
Elite All-star games are by default, a bunch of alpha personalities playing against and with each other. Players who are use to being in charge. What people come to see in an elite all-star game is who will be the alpha amongst the alphas. Fans will even stir the pot with a, "YeeeaaaAAAAH" in crescendo, every time there's a one-on-one matchup.
Are you really elite? It's the difference between which top recruit will be in the starting five in college and which top recruit will be coming off or remaining on the bench in college.