On Feb. 15, the greatest players in basketball will come together in Phoenix for a display of slam dunks, alley-oops and no defense. That’s right—it’s the NBA All-Star Game. Sure, it’s just an exhibition that doesn’t really matter, but the celebrity and fanfare that often surround the game say otherwise.
The simple truth is people love the All-Star game. In fact, they come from all around the country to watch it. I remember just a few short years ago when it came through my hometown of Houston. The streets were crowded, and there were celebrity sightings in every restaurant and club downtown. You would have thought the Super Bowl was in town, not an exhibition game.
2009 Starting Lineups
Every year, the starting lineups are chosen by fan voting. The players with the most fan votes at each position start the game. What follows is a list of the starting lineups and my favorite collectibles for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game.
Yao Ming—Due to his large fan base in China, you can always expect Yao Ming to be voted the starting center in the West. But don’t interpret that as Yao not deserving to be there. The truth is Yao Ming is the most dominant center in the West right now, and if he can find a way to stay healthy, he could have a Hall of Fame-worthy career. Now is the time to buy Yao collectibles because the more All-Star nods he gets, the more valuable his collectibles will be. You can still find autographed Yao Ming jerseys for just a few hundred bucks.
Amare Stoudemire—The 2009 All-Star game will mark Stoudemire’s fourth appearance in the midseason exhibition. Ever since being named Rookie of the Year in 2003, Stoudemire has been improving steadily. Stoudemire collectibles are actually still moderately priced, meaning now could be a great time to invest in some of his pieces.
Tim Duncan—Mr. Fundamental. His game isn’t pretty, and he can be pretty boring to watch, but the bottom line is Tim Duncan produces year in and year out. He’s quietly won one MVP award, three NBA Finals MVPs and even an All-Star Game MVP. If you look hard enough, you can find Duncan memorabilia at reasonable prices. It’s not too late to invest as there’s little doubt Duncan will be a Hall of Fame inductee after he retires.
Kobe Bryant—What can I say about Kobe that hasn’t been said before? Love him or hate him, Kobe has been the best player in the league for the past several years. If you haven’t invested in his collectibles by now, you better have some deep pockets if you want any. Kobe’s collectibles are always in high demand.
Chris Paul—When I think about the future of the NBA, Chris Paul immediately comes to mind. Heck, forget the future, his time is already here. The Hornets point guard is just 23 years old, and this will be his first All-Star Game start. In his short time in the league, Paul has earned a Rookie of the Year award, first team All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive team. His collectibles are already rising in value (signed jerseys go for $700), but they’ll only get more expensive as this youngster continues to light the league on fire. Get his memorabilia while you can still afford them.
Dwight Howard—Perhaps Dwight Howard’s most notable moment came during All-Star weekend last year. His insane Superman dunk during the Slam Dunk Contest was in every highlight reel imaginable. Like Paul, Dwight Howard is just 23 years old, and he is the future of this game. His collectibles are as yet very reasonably priced (autographed jerseys sell for around $400), so you can still invest in this rising star.
Kevin Garnett—I don’t have to tell you that Kevin Garnett is good. If you’ve watched basketball at all over the past decade, you know KG is an absolute beast. And now that he has an NBA championship on his résumé, there’s little doubt about his greatness. Since he’s already established himself as an elite player over the course of several years, Garnett’s collectibles are fairly expensive. However, you should consider that the chances are good that he will add at least one more NBA Championship to his stellar career, and he’s a likely Hall of Famer.
LeBron James—Remember what I said about Kobe earlier? The same goes for James. He’s great, and his collectibles cost a fortune.
Allen Iverson—Despite the controversy that seems to follow him—are we talking about practice?—Iverson has always been a fan favorite. This will mark his 10th appearance in the All-Star game. In fact, Iverson already has two All-Star MVPs under his belt. Because of his popularity with the fans, Iverson’s collectibles are always in high demand. That’s why I think it’s not a good investment move to purchase his memorabilia. Frankly, he’s on the downside of his career, and I feel his collectibles are a bit overpriced.
Dwyane Wade—Because of his injuries last season, a lot of people forget that Dwyane Wade was an NBA Finals MVP just a few short years ago. Even though his collectibles are fairly expensive, now could be a good time to invest. Wade is coming off an injury, and he’s on a team that doesn’t have a real shot at winning a championship anytime soon. This could be a nice recipe for getting Wade’s collectibles at a bargain price.
Are you going to watch the All-Star game? Tell us about your favorite players and collectibles in the replies.
Eric Brantner is a sports fan and freelance writer living in Houston.
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