It’s a question the Atlanta Hawks have been asking for months. And thanks to a few injuries and a judicious bit of coach selecting, there will be four Hawks playing in New York today when the NBA All-Star game tips off at 8:30 pm at Madison Square Garden. (TNT, TBS.) The upstart Hawks have shocked the league, leading the Eastern Conference and at one point winning 19 games in a row.
The rosters are full of familiar and–unlike most years–less familiar names. The Raptors, for instance–also a surprisingly strong team this year–will send guard Kyle Lowry onto the court as a starter. (Even many avid NBA fans haven’t seen Lowry play much.) But winning isn’t everything in the image-driven, marketing-heavy world of the NBA. The Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony has been selected as a starter for the East after leading his woeful Knicks to a 10-43 record. Also: This year the All-Star MVP might just be a preview of the league MVP come June. For the first time in years the MVP race is wide open–and of a dozen players could win it. Look for statements to be made, beginning at 8:30 EST.