The score that never matters in an All Star game, mattered less. Even the dunks, the no-look passes and torrents of 3-pointers were overshadowed.
The best players the NBA could assemble were overshadowed by scores of people that rarely moved at all.
The NBA All-Star game was won by the Eastern Conference, 141-139, but the significance was that 108,713 came to see it.
“This is amazing all of us, something we’ll be able to tell our kids’ kids, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, the game’s MVP with 28 points and 11 assists, said. “We were part of this.”
Playing in a football stadium for the first time since San Antonio’s Alamodome doubled as the Spurs’ home, the 59th NBA All-Star game set a world record for a basketball time, surpassing the 78,129 that attended a Kentucky-Michigan State game in Detroit’s Ford Field in 2007.
“Some of the guys came up to me before the game and said, “This is unbelievable,’ ” Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said.
“It was amazing how many people came out to support us and see this game and be part of history. We needed a win at the end kind of to top the whole thing off. But other than that, had an amazing weekend and I will always remember this.”
The sixth NBA All-Star Game in a domed stadium broke the attendance record for the game set by the 44,735 that attended the 1989 game in the Astrodome. Tickets went from $500 to $30 for standing room, with as much as 20 percent of the crowd not needing to pay at all.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban, standing a few feet from the court before the opening tip, looked from the players that had been introduced to the packed upper deck far away, and was beaming in triumph.
“I wish this is exactly how I pictured it,” he said. “It’s better.”
The game had the usual waves of scoring, with the Eastern
Conference building a 16-point third-quarter lead. But the East never could quite pull away.
With the game tied, Wade took off with a flurry of steals and slams in an 11-2 East run, but the West rallied back again.
Chauncey Billups, who had 14 fourth-quarter points hit a 3, Nowitzki drew a foul and made both free throws and Billups scored again to tie the game with 65 seconds to play.
After Wade stripped Deron Williams, Williams lost track of the score and intentionally fouled
Wade to stop the clock with 12.5 seconds left, even though the game was tied. Wade made both free throws.
The West naturally set up Nowitzki to take a 3 for the win, but Nowitzki pumped Dwight Howard off his feet, drawing a foul, and putting in two free throws to tie the game with 7.7 seconds remaining.
“I actually had Dwight Howard in the air, so what I should have done was jump it to him, got three free throws instead of two and we would have been up by one,” Nowitzki said.
It would not have mattered.
With one hometown star tying the game, another won it. The Raptors’ Chris Bosh, who is from Dallas, got a step on Billups and drew a foul, making both free throws with five seconds left.
“Yeah, it’s a little different, especially it’s the All-Star Game,” Bosh said of taking crucial free throws in such a setting. “We got serious at the end. We wanted to win the game, 108,000 people are watching. It’s a different kind of setting.”
With little time left, the East quickly got the ball to Carmelo Anthony missed a 3 for the win at the buzzer, with Bosh wrapping up the rebound and the win.
“”We wanted to go for the win,” Anthony said. “George (Karl, Anthony’s Nuggets coach, who coached the West) the Western tried to draw up a play. We wanted to go for the win. It was history tonight. If I made it, I was a hero. If not, that was the game. They were all saying they wanted me to take the shot. I felt good having All Star guys telling me they wanted me to get the shot.”
When he missed, the West lost it’s last chance. But it hardly mattered. More than ever, the results were secondary, with the attendance the most important part of the box score.
“It was unbelievable for us to be part of moment like this,” Anthony said. “I don’t think we’ll ever be part of another game or situation like this again. It was incredible. It was great.”