All Star concept in like Flynn
IT was not as if the NBL were saying "thank goodness" for Jonny Flynn's presence in Saturday's All-Star game, but him being there certainly helped.
The dynamic point guard was the centrepiece of the entertainment, showing why he was a No.6 NBA draft pick just a few years ago.
In a game meant to be more spectacle than competitive, you need a few entertainers and he was certainly that.
No-look passes, wicked dribbling skills, effortless assists and great interaction with the fans made him the game's favourite, despite his Melbourne Tigers teammate Chris Goulding stealing the show and MVP honours with a few big dunks in game-high 24 points.
The All-Star concept was making its nervous first steps back since being canned in 2007 and there was certainly some scepticism heading into the Saturday afternoon showpiece at Adelaide Arena.
But everyone left happy. Coaches Andrej Lemanis (South, New Zealand Breakers) and Gordie McLeod (North, Wollongong Hawks) both agreed that it had been a successful recall that could be built on, while Flynn himself genuinely endorsed it.
"Yeah it was great; the dunk contest, three-point shootout and game itself was done really well and I really enjoyed myself," he said.
"To come out and play relaxed and interact with the fans is what it's all about."
NBL boss Chuck Harmison backed the continuation of the concept and invited cities to press their claims for hosting rights after a good vibe and reasonable crowds.
And Lemanis urged officials to stick with the format.
"You have to give something a chance; you gotta build it. I thought the dinner (celebrating Ken Cole's induction into the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame) was a fantastic event and we can certainly do more around that."
For the record, South beat North 134-114 after jumping to a big early lead and hanging on, despite the North coming home strongly.
It meant Taipans Jamar Wilson, Cam Tragardh and Clint Steindl finished on the losing team, but it was no doubt the best they've felt in defeat all season.
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Show time: The NBL's top players joke around before the three-point shootout in Adelaide yesterday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES