Monday, February 15, 2010

All-Star Weekend Highlights (and Lowlights)

The NBA's All-Star Weekend had its share of exciting moments...and it's share of things that need to be changed.

-The game itself. Complain all you want about the lack of defense, because any game that ends 141-139 either involves Eastern and Western All-Stars or the Golden State Warriors. But the last I checked, the All-Star Game was a showcase of the best players in the world; who wants to see great defense?

Even as a basketball purist who likes to see unselfish offense and hard-nosed defense (there's a reason I watch more college basketball than NBA), the All-Star game is a different story. If I paid for a seat at Cowboy Stadium last night, I would've been more than satisfied with the high-flying dunks, behind-the-back passes and supposed "lack of defense." Honestly, who can defend when you have LeBron James and Dwayne Wade on the same court (take note, Knicks fans).

Talking to Craig Sager (or David Aldridge, who really cares), Kobe Bryant described the All-Star Game as "the best pick-up game in the world." And that's exactly what it is. So stop complaining about what the game isn't (a defensive showdown) and appreciate what it's there for; for the league's best players to show off their skills, have a good time and put on a show for the fans. And for anybody who was watching the final few minutes when the game was close, you might have noticed some defense. It's all about that competitive fire.

-Three-point shootout. Do you ever hear anybody complaining about the three-point contest? Unlike the dunk contest, it is the same exact thing every year with different participants. And despite the fact that my boy Danilo Gallinari couldn't hit a first-round shot that wasn't from a corner (9 points in the first and last racks, 6 at the other three), watching the league's best shooters hoist long-distance shots is always enough to entertain me, especially when they shoot well. It took 17 points to make it out of round one, and Stephen Curry missed his last two shots in the final round which would've tied winner Paul Pierce's 20.

-Rookie-sophomore game. I love rooting for the underdog, and the rookies are All-Star Weekend's perennial underdog. In seven previous instances of the game, they had never won. Until Friday night. Tyreke Evans was the best player on the court and virtually willed his team to victory, and I enjoy watching the stars of 2012 play against each other in 2010. This game is always talent-laden, with players like Evans, Brandon Jennings, Russell Westbrook and Brook Lopez showing that the NBA still has a bright future when its current stars fade away.

-Celebrity game. Outside of Terrell Owens, who Shaq thinks could play in the NBA if he worked at it, this game involves celebrities and musicians with little to no talent (really, Michael Rapaport and Pitbull?) and over-the-hill athletes like Rick Fox, Chris Mullin and a bunch of Harlem Globetrotters who do one thing well. There's a reason I left it on mute while I played online poker.

-Dunk contest. Who didn't see this coming? This was by far the worst dunk contest in years, and it's not like the last few have been particularly awesome. There was ONE good dunk, and it may have been more thanks to Sonny Weems' pass off the backboard than DeMar Derozan's windmill finish once he caught it. Nate Robinson won again because his dunks look 10 times better than taller players doing the same thing, and his Dallas cheerleaders stunt wasn't quite the Superman-KryptoNate showmanship of last year's contest.

Something needs to change about the dunk contest, and I really don't know what. There is little to no incentive for the stars like LeBron to participate and the dunks in the All-Star Game elicited a lot more reaction out of me than the ones from the dunk contest. If you can't find a way to include the league's best dunkers or at least players who are going to try (sorry Shannon Brown, switching hands in the air doesn't make your dunk cool), then it's just pointless. I can go in my driveway and emulate these dunks on an 8-foot basket, and that's just sad.

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