When NBA stars align, schemes can happen

All-Star Weekend is where the best of the very best get to have fun and show their stuff. It’s a weekend full of entertainment, a weekend of the NBA giving back to its fans.

But for fans of struggling teams, it can also be dangerous.

During All-Star Weekend, the game’s biggest names don’t just toss alley-oop passes and throw down fancy dunks in front of a worldwide audience. They also sometimes whisper, recruit, plan and plot behind the scenes.

A lot of folks credit (or blame) the U.S. Olympic basketball team for the creation of today’s Miami Heat of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But the concept was first conceived during the 2008 All-Star break, according to FOX Sports Ohio sources.

Initially, James, Wade and New York’s Carmelo Anthony joked about playing for the same team. Initially, it was all in jest. Later, it became a full-blown conversation.

By that time, Anthony had manufactured a trade from Denver to New York. Wade had also made it clear he wasn’t leaving Miami. Wade, James and Bosh began to talk, to ask “what if?”

The same thing happened with then-Orlando center Dwight Howard. Agents, acquaintances and, yes, fellow All-Stars hinted Howard needed a fresh start. He ultimately made up his own mind to force the Magic’s hand and trade him to the L.A. Lakers — but again, the seed had to be planted somewhere. Many insiders insist it was during a weekend like this.

Now, this hardly happens all the time. Kobe Bryant is renowned for being too competitive to think he needs another star. As one source said, Bryant has always been a firm believer he can get the Lakers to a title on his own.

San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Boston’s Kevin Garnett and others are also known to avoid these behind-the-scenes shenanigans. They’re friends to all, but friends to no one. They’re content with their situations.

And not even the likes of James, Wade and Bosh set out to draft potential teammates. It just sort of happens, with perhaps something as innocent as a hint or a laugh. But when you’re a younger 20-something on a bad team, it’s only human nature for that hint to turn into something more. It can turn into a novel idea.

Sources suggest James already has the ear of Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving about the potential of teaming up for an entire season (and beyond). James can opt out of his contract in 2014, and Irving will only be 22 years old.

Earlier this week, Irving said he hasn’t given the idea of pairing with James much thought. Then, in the next breath, he indicated he can afford it at least a little.

“The potential is endless if it ever did happen,” Irving said. “Obviously, I’d be 22 and still a young guy.”

Either way, it’s all speculation, and until James officially opts out, it’s really much ado about nothing.

Part of it, in fact, is a media creation. And the media can quickly silence things — much the way NBA writers built up basketball mystery man William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley in 2010, then ignored him and sent him back into irrelevancy a year later.

Players, on the other hand, actually give fellow players the time of day. That’s especially the case on weekends like this, when the young guns get to heed the wisdom of their more experienced peers.

Sometimes, that wisdom comes in the form of quietly encouraging fellow stars to angle for a better situation.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO