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This Week In Sports: NBA All-Star Game; What About NHL Concussions?


And now it's time for sports.


WERTHEIMER: It's the NBA All-Star Weekend, that wonderful break in the basketball season when we put aside our team loyalties and watch the Eastern and Western Conference dream teams face off. The big game is tomorrow, and here to throw the jump ball for us is Howard Bryant of and ESPN The Magazine.

Thank you for being with us, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Hi, Linda. It's been a while.

WERTHEIMER: Yeah. Howard, the Western Conference has won the All-Star Game 10 out of the last 16 years. Is that going to keep going?

BRYANT: Oh, who knows? It doesn't really matter anyway. It's meaningless. The All-Star Game is all about fun. It's all about watching your favorite players play, you know, with players that they usually play against. It's going to be nice to see Steph Curry and Kobe Bryant in the backcourt. Let's not forget it's Kobe Bryant who is retiring at the end of this season, his final All-Star Game. So there's going be a lot of pomp and circumstance around him. It's going to be great to see Klay Thompson and all of these great players out there, playing in a game where it really doesn't count. And what you're going to see is a lot of dunks, not a lot of defense, a lot of great showboating and passing.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

BRYANT: And they're the best athletes in the world. It's the best All-Star game. And I love what hockey has done with their All-Star game, but the basketball All-Star game is the best because you really get to see how good these guys are.

WERTHEIMER: Now, the Golden State Warriors have had an incredible season so far. They've won 48 games, lost only four. When the season resumes, what happens to them?

BRYANT: Well, the Golden State Warriors (laughter) are doing something that we've never seen before. And that includes the Larry Bird Celtics and the Wilt Chamberlain 76ers and the Moses Malone 76ers and, of course, the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls. They're 48-4. And they are going for the all-time record of 73 wins, passing Michael Jordan's 72 wins in 1995-96.

This team is incredible. They're playing basketball at a level that we haven't seen in this modern era with their ability to shoot 3-pointers and their ability to just absolutely run through (laughter) the opposition. And I think that their playing with so much motivation because so many people have doubted them, thinking that their style of basketball is - wouldn't stand up to the greats of all time. And they are proving, every single time, that they have got a challenge that they don't just win, that they're blowing teams out. They're blowing the teams out that they might be playing, whether it's Cleveland or San Antonio. They beat Cleveland. They were up by 40 in Cleveland. They beat San Antonio by 30. So if you're watching this team, and you don't think they're very good - well, they're proving - and they're using that motivation to really do something special.

WERTHEIMER: Now, normally at this point, we might be talking about pitchers and catchers report. But instead, we've got Mets pitcher Jerry Mejia (ph) make - Jenrry Mejia making baseball history for being the first player permanently suspended by Major League Baseball. What brought this on?

BRYANT: Well (laughter), he won't stop using steroids. This is - once again, this goes back to, you know, baseball's worst nightmare. What is the price of the steroid era? And the price is, once again, you have pitchers and catchers who are reporting. This is supposed be the time when the trucks go down to Florida and to Arizona and we're celebrating the start of baseball season. And what are talking about? We're talking about drugs. You're talking about Jenrry Mejia, who's a player whose team, the Mets, go to the World Series in one of the great Cinderella stories of last year. He wasn't on the team last year because he had been suspended for steroids.

And now - this year, same thing. This team, the Mets, are going out to defend their National League Championships. And he's being welcomed back with open arms? Well, not so fast. He's suspended for steroids again, and now it's a lifetime ban. He can reapply for reinstatement in two years, but for the most part, it looks like his career is over.

WERTHEIMER: Howard Bryant of and ESPN The Magazine, thank you so much for being with us, and happy Presidents' Day, Howard.

BRYANT: Oh, yes. My pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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