As Eric Freeman related Thursday night, the starting fives for the Eastern and Western Conference teams in next month's 2013 NBA All-Star Game have been announced, and basketball fans around the world decided that they wanted to see a starting Eastern backcourt composed of Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade and Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. This makes sense for a few reasons — they are very exciting individual talents; they've been the conference's two most consistently elite performers thus far this season (via Kyrie Irving missing time); they have played a lot of games on national television in recent years, so more people know who they are than, say, Jrue Holiday. As both Eric and Kelly Dwyer wrote, the fans got this, and most of the other, starting selections right.
One other thing makes the Wade-Rondo backcourt pairing especially intriguing — the prospect of sparks between two players with a way-less-than-friendly history.
Remember that Wade took Rondo down in Game 3 of the Heat/Celtics series in 2011, hyperextending Rondo's elbow and forcing him to play basically one-handed for the balance of the series, which Miami won. And that Rondo called Wade and his teammates out for "crying to referees" during a Boston win over Miami last postseason. And that Rondo committed a flagrant foul on Wade at the start of this season, which the Heat star called "a punk play" and the Celtics triggerman said Wade "sold [...] a little bit." Suffice it to say, they're not especially chummy.
Then again, as ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg learned Thursday, Rondo's not "especially chummy" with anybody in the NBA, and doesn't really plan to start in Houston next month:
[...] Rondo's eyebrows quizzically shot skyward when asked Thursday about the "chummy chummy" nature of the NBA All-Star game. Rondo said he was unfamiliar with the term — playfully suggesting it must be Boston vernacular — and soon decried how All-Star weekend is a pretend lovefest for rivals. [...]
So will Rondo be hanging out with Wade and Melo that weekend?
"Why would I?" asked Rondo. [...] "No, I don’t do much socializing," he said. "If I make it, I hope one of my homeboys makes it, [Atlanta's] Josh Smith. If he makes it, KG makes it, we’ll all [hang out]."
Just don't expect any members of the Knicks or Heat to get an invite. Rondo noted on Thursday, "I don’t try to be friends with anyone outside my team."
Since it doesn't look especially likely that old Oak Hill Academy buddy Smith (who had kind of a rough week) will be among the East's reserve selections — he didn't make the cut for Dwyer, the SB Nation dudes, ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin, NBA.com's Steve Aschburner or Bleacher Report's Ethan Sherwood Strauss, among others — it seems like Rondo will be spending a lot of time with Garnett ... who, now that we mention it, has an interesting frontcourt pairing of his own on his hands, now doesn't he?
Garnett will start up front alongside leading Eastern vote-getter LeBron James — who, lest we forget, laughed straight in KG's face in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year — and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. As you probably remember, Garnett and Anthony had kind of a thing recently, one that got a bit out of hand and resulted in arguments about the ethicality and rationality of on-court surveillance. It was all quite something.
Despite that, though, Garnett told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald there won't be any static between he and Anthony — at least, not from his end:
"From my understanding, me and Melo are fine," said Garnett, who will take on the Knicks next Thursday in Boston. "I don't anticipate any friction. You know, I'm a man; he's a man. I don’t think that situation will boil over into this and spoil the All-Star weekend. I think we're much more professional than that.
"But you never know. I'm just speaking from my perspective, but I don’t anticipate that. We're both going there to enjoy the game. That's pretty much what it is."
I mean, it better be. Rumor has it Dolan's mics can hear you whisper from 3,000 miles away, and since the commish really doesn't have a problem with surreptitious taping, Jimmy D's likely to have his headphones all the way turnt up.