The news is that the Golden State Warriors will supply the starting backcourt for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game.
The development that matters, of course, is if they finish it as well.
The NBA has constructed the most meaningful All-Star teams, because there are only 12 players on each team and roughly 50 qualified All-Stars. Unlike the Pro Bowl, where players can’t wait to be named so they can tell people they can’t play, or the NHL All-Star Game, which Sidney Crosby has avoided like it was dipped in a vat of plague, and the MLB All-Star Game, in which you get 40 players per team, being an NBA All-Star is actually and honestly prestigious.
In addition, the Warriors have had as much in common with the All-Star Game in the last 15 years as they have with the Macedonia-Montenegro soccer friendly in Skopje.
But Golden State has worked to exhaustion to repudiate its history with this team and the two that preceded it, and with Steph Curry as its advance scout and Klay Thompson and coaches Steve Kerr, Ron Adams and Alvin Gentry, this All-Star team has more Warrior representatives on it than any since 1968.
And yes, all of these honorifics are deserved, so don’t get your delicates in a tangle.
But the All-Star Game can also bring out the best in the teams when the games are sufficiently close going into the fourth quarter, because if you’ve gone to that much effort, why the hell not win the game and show up your contemporaries?
If that is the case Sunday at Madison Squalor Garden, Kerr will want to finish with his best players, one of which is certainly Curry. If he regards Thompson as the second-best guard, it is less likely to be about inter-office harmony and more about in-game exigencies.
Look, it’s as close as you’re going to get to actually meaningful developments Sunday, unless there’s some catastrophic injury. This is the NBA’s garish cotillion and everyone comes dressed for the kill.
But this underrated truth is still just that, and that is that the most important players finish games, because the finish is where the payday is.
Oh, there is the usual harmony-of-my-room politics that surely played a role in Kerr’s decision of Thompson – one of the perks of being the boss. But that diminishes Thompson’s half-season, and critics (if there are any at a game like this) will cite that as reason enough to dismiss Thompson’s promotion, facts be damned.
And if you’re hanging around people who talk about All-Star snubs or playing time slights, you need better friends.
But if you need to dig for significance other than “They used to get zero players period and now they have the two best guards,” you may as well seek out the matter of whether they will be called upon to finish what they start.
The Warriors finished their 51-game first half running on empty, barely escaping the Bermuda Triangle of puffed-up D-league ball, New York, Philadelphia and Minnesota. When you run uphill carrying furniture, you long for flat land.
But with no games until next Friday, Curry and Thompson can sleep with their feet are dead – starting Sunday night on the flight back to Oakland. They’ve earned their time off, but they’ve also earned their exhaustion.
So we’ll see if they can earn the right to finish Sunday’s game, if Sunday’s game merits their participation. That will tell us a bit more than the fact that they are starting.
And when we say a bit more, we mean an almost infinitesimal amount. This is their victory lap for a first-half run rampant, but this is also a reputation check of sorts among their peers.
In other words, what the hell, they may as well try to be the finishers as well as the starters.