BROOKLYN, N.Y. –– Any time you lace them up, there’s a chance at getting hurt on the basketball court.
Players know this and always talk about how you’re less likely to get hurt when you play hard. It’s when you go half-speed, or when you’re showing off, that people usually get hurt, the common wisdom goes.
Unfortunately, taking it easy and showing off is what an all-star game is all about. The East beat the West 131-117 Friday in the boys game at the Jordan Brand Classic, but two players left the court in the first half with what appeared to be significant injuries.
First, Connecticut signee Alterique Gilbert of Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) appeared to separate his left shoulder when he ran into a pick in the backcourt. He was wheeled off the court in a wheelchair after several minutes, with his family quickly joining him. Even though he played only 10 minutes, he led his team with five assists.
A few minutes later, Duke signee Frank Jackson of Lone Peak (Highland, Utah) was undercut on a dunk attempt and landed hard on his back, with his head whipping its way onto the court. He was treated for a concussion. Neither player returned in the second half and their injuries quieted one of the better crowds at the Jordan Brand Classic.
There were highlights, of course. De’Aaron Fox of Cypress Lakes (Katy, Texas), a Kentucky signee, had 23 points for the East and Jayson Tatum of Chaminade (St. Louis), a Duke signee, had 18 without seeming to break a sweat. Markelle Fultz of DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), who is headed to Washington, had 19 points with three three-pointers.
“It was my first time in New York and this is the basketball side of the United States,” Fox said. “I just came out and performed for this crowd and it was ridiculous. We have fans like that in Texas, but they’re football fans.”
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For the West, Malik Monk, a Kentucky signee from Bentonville (Ark.), was electrifying at times, with his passing, dunking and three-point shooting. He had 22 points. West forward Miles Bridges, a Michigan State signee from Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), was dominant underneath, throwing down nasty dunks and he finished with 17 points. Bridges also was the first player in the game to hit a three-pointer. Prior to that, the teams were a combined 0-for-14 from beyond the line.
The two Kentucky signees — Fox and Monk — were named the MVP for their respective teams.
But the injuries turned a raucous crowd quiet and changed the tone of the game.
“Especially at events like this, where it’s a high-energy game, but it doesn’t mean anything to your career, you feel bad for those guys who hurt themselves over something that is not even that important,” said West guard Cassius Winston of Detroit Jesuit, who had 13 points and a game-high seven assists.
Tatum, who saw a future teammate at Duke in Jackson get carried off the court, was noticeably subdued after the game.
“I haven’t talked to him yet — I’m going to give him a call,” Tatum said.
“You don’t give a hundred percent in an all-star game. You can’t horse around, but you don’t want to dive in a crowd for a loose ball. This was more for the high-flying guys and that’s really not my game.”