If Lillard doesn't win it, it better go to LeBron. It feels as though LeBron should have more than two of them, just as it feels as though he should have more than two championships. If we counted his reluctance to shoot at the end of the 2012 game against him in the "LeBron's not clutch" narrative, then it's fair to include All-Star achievements as he builds his Mount Rushmore case.
Israel: To me, All-Star Weekend tends to show off who you really are as a player. That's why I don't have a huge problem with his reluctance to shoot at the end in 2012. It's part of who he is, always looking to facilitate. That leads me into the idea that LeBron "needs to do more." The way the All-Star Game should and normally does work, in my opinion, is letting this flesh out naturally. If you have a hot hand, that person should probably take MVP. If you've got the best player in the game playing his normal game, he often ends up being the MVP. When you force it, it's a bit too obvious (perhaps that's what Philadelphia fans were thinking as they booed Kobe Bryant while winning the MVP award there in 2002). So LeBron will get his share of All-Star MVPs just by being himself.
As for the dunk contest, people who say that's a gap in his résumé look/sound pretty silly. Magic Johnson is on most people's Mount Rushmore of NBA greats. How many dunk contests or 3-point contests did he enter/win? Is that a stain on his résumé? If Paul George wins this dunk contest, finishes his career with a résumé close to but not quite at LeBron's level, can we say "my dunk contest title scoots me ahead of LeBron?" Of course not.
The dunk contest is there for entertainment value. LeBron put together a show after practice in Phoenix. We were all entertained. He's scared? Come on, now. If you could jump like that, what's there to be scared of, other than hitting your head on the rim? By the way, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen both have dunk contest Ls on their résumé. Anybody ever bring that up (other than me just now)?
Let's not make this All-Star Weekend about what LeBron isn't doing. I say we look for Lillard to win 'em all and then tell LeBron, "I'm the best basketball player in the world!" Now that would be a challenge.
J.A.: You know what's going to be a challenge? Keeping that All-Star MVP award out of Kevin Durant's hands. It might turn out that the same guy we're talking about at the end of the weekend is the same guy we'll be talking about at the end of the season.