Jazz's Malone says main event is missing its rhythm Sideshows have become bigger than game itself

NBA All-Star Game

February 12, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SAN ANTONIO -- Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone says he likes to win. At all costs. And after the West lost yesterday in a contest that was mostly one-sided in the second half, he sounded almost disgusted about what the All-Star Game has become.

"It seemed like everyone just wanted to get it over," Malone said. "We should have played harder. I like to win. If I seem disappointed, it's because I am.

"It's almost to the point the All-Star Game is second nature now," Malone said. "That the sideshows are more important than the game. As a player, you would like to think that the game is more important."

When Malone came into the league, the All-Stars just showed up and played. Now there are parties every night. Planet Hollywood chose to open its San Antonio spot during the weekend, drawing some of Hollywood's top stars and players to the grand opening party. Players now travel around in stretch limousines, escorted by huge entourages.

To Malone, it's quite a transformation.

"Nowadays in this business, you don't know who wants to win and who wants to play hard," Malone said. "Michael [Jordan] came back to the league and played hard. Magic [Johnson] came back and played hard. It seems like the league needed a couple of shots in the arm.

"You look at the guys in the league and it'll be interesting in four years what the league will be like," Malone added. "If I had to rate this game, I'd say it was an OK game. I kind of feel sorry for the fans."

Cheers for Howard

When Washington Bullets forward Juwan Howard scored on a short baseline jumper with 2:03 left in the game, a roar came through from a tiny portion of the crowd. The Howard cheering section, of course, was pleased that the second-year player didn't go through the game without scoring.

Howard, making his first All-Star appearance, was the last player to score. He finished the game with two points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.

"Next time when I come back, I want to have a better game," Howard said. "You know what they say, you have to walk before you can run. I guess this was my walking stage."

Howard was just happy to be here, being named to the team by the East coaches.

"It was a great weekend for me, I really enjoyed it," Howard said. "When I came in the locker room, I got a lot of butterflies just being here with all of these guys. It's been outstanding; I want to come back."

A place for Spurs

While the All-Star Game drew a crowd of more than 36,000 people to the Alamodome, there have been rumors of the team leaving the state or possibly the city.

The main concern for the team has been the building, which was built with the idea that a professional football team could be lured to San Antonio. The Spurs remain the only major professional sports team in town, playing in a building that is considered too big for basketball and lacks atmosphere.

"We would like to see the San Antonio Spurs remain in San Antonio and fully expect that they will," NBA commissioner David Stern said.

Stern also addressed the possibility of an NBA team playing in Mexico City.

"We have said in the past that we consider Mexico City a viable expansion possibility for the NBA as a North American league," Stern said. "At this point, we should allow our league to grow within itself and not really consider any expansion before the turn of the century."

Stern said the league will open the 1996-97 season in Japan. The Bullets and Orlando Magic had been offered the opportunity to play their first two games there, but it's unknown who the NBA participants will be.

Kidd gets chance

When Seattle coach George Karl earned the right to coach the West, he made a comment that Utah's John Stockton or SuperSonics guard Gary Payton was more deserving to start the game at the point than Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. But Kidd was voted in by the fans, and his teammates yesterday enjoyed playing with him.

"He's a very good, very exciting player," Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley said. "I think he's on his way to being one of the top players in the league."

Kidd finished with seven points and a game-high 10 assists in 22 minutes, and took away a lot of memories.

"My goal was to get 12 assists," Kidd said. "If I can get 25 assists when I'm playing with the Mavericks, maybe I should be able to do 50 in a game like this."

Karl said: "I love how he can handle and penetrate the ball. I think any player that makes the game simple has the chance to be a great player, and Jason is a very simple basketball player."

Stern to get extension

Stern, who often has joked the NBA salary cap doesn't apply to him, apparently wasn't kidding. The man who has led the league to its greatest period of prosperity and growth in its 50-year history will today receive a five-year deal worth $35 million, he told the New York Daily News.

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