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kriD
02-22-2007, 06:02 AM
NBA INSIDER

NBA could use a global tilt

By DWAIN PRICE
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

If the NBA really wanted to spruce up its All-Star Game so basketball purists won't wince over every defensive breakdown, why not play a midseason classic that pits the American-born stars against a team of players who were born outside of the United States.

There's nothing like a little pride for your country to bring out the best in everyone. It could be sort of a poor-man's version of the Olympics, with the rosters expanded to 15 players per team.

International players have flooded the NBA over the past decade -- and they can more than hold their own against our native sons.

Non-American All-Stars could include Leandro Barbosa (Brazil), Andrew Bogut (Australia), Luol Deng (Sudan), Boris Diaw (France), Pau Gasol (Spain), Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Lithuania), Andrei Kirilenko (Russia), Steve Nash (Canada), Andres Nocioni (Argentina), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Mehmet Okur (Turkey), Tony Parker (France), Peja Stojakovic (Yugoslavia) and Yao Ming (China).

American-born All-Stars could feature Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Jason Kidd, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, Amare Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade.

Take those two rosters, put a basketball court inside Houston's Reliant Stadium and watch 100,000 people file through the turnstiles to see a very competitive All-Star Game with some serious bragging rights on the line.

"If that happens, it would be more serious because it's going to be like a big challenge," Ginobili said after Tuesday's shootaround. "But it's such a big tradition and it's been such a great thing for so many years that I think it's going to be hard to change it."

Parker is certain that changing the East-West status quo is the jolt in the arm the NBA needs to make the All-Star Game more competitive.

While fans show up to see their favorite players, the game usually turns into something resembling the world's largest playground game minus any defensive intensity.

That wouldn't happen if you marketed the All-Star Game as American-born NBA players vs. those who were born outside of this country.

"Why not do it?" Parker said. "I think it'll be a good idea just for one year. I don't think you should put something like that together every year. But like the NBA gave the All-Star Game to Las Vegas this year, why not for one year try it and see how people like it?"

Stoudemire's goal

Before the season started, one of Amare Stoudemire's goals was to become an NBA All-Star again.

Mission accomplished.

The Phoenix Suns' 6-foot-10 center not only returned from knee surgery to play in Sunday's All-Star Game, but he looked to be back to his old, devastating self. He scored 29 points (14-of-22 FGs), with nine rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes.

"It was a long season for me last year with me having two knee surgeries," Stoudemire said. "It was a tough rehabilitation process, it took a lot of work and dedication.

"A lot of people didn't think I'd be here today -- a lot of doubters out there. But I stay focused with my goals and I reached them."