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Donna Carson, AP
The West's Karl Malone goes eyeball to eyeball with the East's Michael Jordan while Akeem Olajuwon looks down on the scene during the NBA All-Star game in Houston, Tex., Feb. 2, 1989. The West won, 143-134.

The NBA is getting good reviews for staging an All-Star Game that actually turned out to be a game.

It’s about time.

Maybe I’ll come back as a viewer.

I was on vacation during this year’s All-Star Weekend, mainly because I scheduled it that way. I figured the last thing I needed to watch was that. Traditionally it has been as interesting as a glass of milk. Zero defense. Dumb setup dunks. Players hamming it up. So this year they changed the format to involve a draft. Meanwhile, top players decided beforehand that they would change the tone of the game.

Too bad this didn’t happen before.

I remember the years John Stockton and Karl Malone went to the game as participants and seemed to barely hide their contempt. They were professionals caught in a cheesy sideshow. Malone got waved off a screen by Kobe Bryant in 1998.

"When young guys tell me to get out of the way, that's a game I don't need to be in,” Malone grumped afterward.

He had good reason to grump.

It was a waste of his time.

No wonder both he and Stockton, later in their careers, would have been happy to take the weekend off. Even the year they were co-MVPs (1993), the game was silly. Most players didn’t start trying until overtime. Not that Malone and Stockton didn’t deserve it, but it seemed convenient that they would be co-MVPs the year the game was at the Delta Center.

But that was the All-Star touch.

Nothing serious.

In that light, this one’s for you, Mailman. This year’s All-Star Game actually included some defense and picks. So I’m told. I was having dinner with my wife while it was going on. Now that things have changed, I might actually come back to watching. But I doubt the Mailman will be a regular.