Ben Golliver and Michael Pina choose sides for Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. Ben plays Kevin Durant and Michael plays LeBron James, and they go through the selection of their starting lineups and All-Star reserves. Should LeBron and KD select the best overall players or the most entertaining players? Does it make sense to load up a team with two-way talent or creative ball handlers? Is there enough room for Kyrie Irving, Luka Dončić, James Harden and Damian Lillard on the same list? How much should age take into account in this year’s election given the older statesmen in the mix? How many slights would have been chosen about Julius Randle and Zach LaVine in this draft? And who will be the dreaded last player selected? When it’s all over, the Open Floor Globe must decide the winner: Michael’s Spirit of St. Louis or Ben’s Coney Island Hot Dogs?
The following transcript is an excerpt from The Open Floor Podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or in SI.com.
Ben Golliver: All right, with the top pick in the 2021 Open Floor NBA All-Star draft, you’re on the clock. And remember, first we will select from the group of holders and then we will go to the reservations. And just to complicate things further, which is why Kevin Durant is making the picks, but in reality there will have to be a new standard captain because he is not playing. I’ll be appointing my captain shortly when it’s my turn to choose, Michael. And then from there, we also have an injury replacement. Anthony Davis is not selectable because he is offside. So Devin Booker is involved in that very deal. Tatum has been promoted to starter to fill the KD job. And we also have Domantas Sabonis jumping on the bench, apparently because everyone else who was more worthy than him just decided they didn’t want to go. That is my personal opinion; I don’t know how he was nominated as a replacement for guys like Khris Middleton and Bam Adebayo, but we’re going to let the NBA league office figure it out themselves. Alright Michael, without further ado, choice number one is …
Michael Pina: You are going to love this. My number one pick is Mr. Kawhi Leonard.
Golliver: Oh my God. You picked the most boring player in the All-Star Game. Are you going to have it as your first choice, Michael?
Pineapple: Kawhi is great. I refuse to give in to the accusation that he is a boring gamer. I totally disagree. I love watching him play basketball. I love watching him defend. The fear that you put in who you are caring for is real, it is tangible, it is palpable, it can be seen through your television screen. And writing from LeBron’s perspective, which is my mindset for much of this selection process. If I’m LeBron, I’ll pick Kawhi because he’s the only one who can protect me. So if we’re at a crucial moment, I’m not worried about anyone else on the other team. And now that I have a guy on my side, I don’t need to worry or worry about Kawhi’s huge hands in my personal space as I try to make a late comeback or preserve a late lead. So Kawhi is an easy choice for me. And I know you love it.
Golliver: It’s a great point, both guys will need someone to talk to when they ice their knees in the middle of the second quarter. So glad he has an ice buddy there, that’s fantastic.
So we got this email from Juan. He writes: “I am writing to you, especially because I think we should use one of our Open floor Balloon mantras and talk to Ben, who likes to call himself Captain Responsibility. I’m listening to this bonus episode with Haley O’Shaughnessy. And that was a great show, by the way. And I hear Ben talk about how Kyrie and James Harden have broken Michael’s heart since Kyrie left his beloved Celtics. And Harden did the same when he left Houston. And in that moment I connected the dots and realized that Ben feels exactly the same way about Kawhi Leonard. I can’t forget when Kawhi killed the Sixers in the Raptors title race and everyone was excited for those extra rebounds Kawhi took. And all Ben had to say is that Michael Jordan never needed more than one rebound. Also, I’ve lost count of how many times Michael has argued with Ben about Kawhi, and all Ben does is put Kawhi down. Ben, I think you have to go ahead and accept that Kawhi was not happy in San Antonio. “Look, this is a great detective and detective job for Juan.
Absolutely, it has a very fair point. I appreciate you keeping me on that level. All I’m going to say is that I think there are some flaws in Kawhi’s game that are not talked about because Kawhi is never talked about. I will always use that as my defense. I’m curious, when you were watching the Milwaukee game against the LA Clippers, Michael, and I have been telling you about some of these problems that the Clippers have in times of crisis. Kawhi has this reputation as a great clutch shot creator, everyone mentions the ‘four gorilla’ and again I’m not even sure Michael needed a bounce, I think it’s usually pretty simple. You know, all of his big shots that I remember were really clean. But it has that reputation. And this year their clutch numbers are not good. I don’t think he can go downhill enough during late game situations. Same for Paul George. Pat Beverley isn’t necessarily that guy. And so they are in a three-point situation against Milwaukee where they need to hit a good shot. This is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in NBA history. And all they can get is for Kawhi Leonard to dribble from two or three steps behind the three-point line on Pat Connaughton, which isn’t exactly a Kawhi plug. And that fuels my general feeling that at the end of games, I don’t trust Kawhi as much as people like to exaggerate him in those situations. And I don’t really trust the Clippers yet, because it feels like they’re in this mode of giving in to superstar-level guys instead of getting people moving, getting good shots, and knowing what they want to do. It is simply ground. We saw that problem in the playoffs last year. I think it will be an ongoing problem for them.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.