Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards Announced Himself At All-Star Weekend

Photo Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA All-Star Game is an abomination. It’s devolved into a 48-minute layup line that the best players don’t even want to play in anymore. Coaches don’t even recognize it as real basketball. While most people were bemoaning the viceless host city Salt Lake City, wishing Karl Malone would go away, and anointing Janelle Monae as the people’s All-Star Weekend MVP, one player actually seemed to enjoy himself and made the most of his three days in the national spotlight.

Anthony Edwards was always an All-Star in the eyes of Minnesota Timberwolves fans, even if it took some convincing to finally get him there. Now that Adam Silver is comfortably in the pocket of Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore, and the Wolves are the shadow commissioners of the league, Edwards made his first All-Star team as an injury replacement. For a 21-year-old in his third season, the initial experience of his first All-Star Weekend could be overwhelming, but Edwards rose to the occasion and grew his brand by just being himself.

On the surface, it looks like Edwards had a ho-hum All-Star debut. He arrived in Utah one of six first-time All-Stars along with Lauri Markkanen, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Jaren Jackson Jr. During the actual game which we won’t mention past this sentence, Ant played 17 minutes off the bench and had 12 points, four rebounds and an assist. He also had a few B+ dunks for the losing team while playing most of his time jogging slowly between the three-point lines. Edwards wasn’t part of any of the Saturday night competitions and adamantly opted out of ever participating in a Dunk Contest in the future. So why was his brief stint in SL, UT so successful?

Two things stood out from Ant’s first foray into All-Star Weekend that should have Timberwolves fans and the rest of the league paying attention. The first is that whenever he spoke, people listened. Edwards has been teetering on the edge of stardom for some time. But you would think that in his first All-Star Game, he would hang out, show up at a party, create some fun social content, and get the hell out of there. That’s the case for most first-timers. Not so for Edwards. He popped up in an interview with seemingly everyone (including answering a few of my dumbass questions).

And Edwards didn’t just answer some generic popularity questions like who is your favorite rapper? or what’s your pregame meal? He answered real, hard-hitting questions about the state of the league. When asked about load management, a huge topic that commissioner Adam Silver spoke at length about in his state of the league address, Edwards all but called out stars around the league who sit out when they don’t absolutely need to, taking a stand at the vanguard of the players should play movement. He might as well have gone two booths over and told Kyrie Irving to get his ass on the court.

The thing is that nobody told the young buck to sit down and know his place in the pecking order. For the most part fans, and especially the old guard of former NBA players, were all on his side. They appreciated that someone so young understood his role in playing not just for a championship and his teammates but for the fans who spend their hard-earned cash to see him put on a show. Of course, he’s only 21 years old and might change his tune after a few more years of back-to-backs. But for now, Edwards is the face of the players get paid to play grassroots movement.

The other moment that stood out, especially to Wolves fans, was what Edwards chose to wear for his big moment. Most stars opt for something flashy or comfortable to walk into the stadium in. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wore the nicest fur coat I’ve ever seen, Nikola Jokic was all business off the court and anything but on the court. Most players went for some combination of warm and comfortable while still stylish. However, Edwards opted to rep his team wearing a Kevin Garnett t-shirt, sleek (and hopefully fairly priced) Timberwolves cardigan, and a definitely not cheap basketball necklace.

It’s a small sign that might get lost by other NBA fans but means the world to Wolves fans. It doesn’t mean he’s staying in Minnesota for his whole career, and that he’ll never ask for a trade. Nor does it mean that he’s going to ever meet our lofty expectations and raise a championship banner next to the moon and Malik Sealy jersey in the Target Center. However, it shows he cares and appreciates us. Garnett was known to rock Timberwolves gear when he could to give the franchise some deserved national exposure, and Ant following in KG’s footsteps can only be a good thing.

Anthony Edwards made a statement at his first All-Star Game. He may not have announced that he’s got next on the court, but he asserted himself as the next big star off the court. Even if you never watch an actual NBA All-Star Game ever again, Edwards is cementing himself as a star in the NBA who will be in the spotlight for the next two decades.

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Photo Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

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