Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why I hate (but really love) All-Star weekend

Believe me when I could go on and on about this and still leave Hubie Brown plenty of time to pontificate about how this isn't even the worst our league has to offer. Which is a problem when you think about it.

The All-Star "weekend" is really a 4 day event that starts with the last NBA games on Thursday night on TNT, and then segues into the coverage TNT will feature over the next 3 days in whatever city the All-Star event will be doing. That's the problem. There is genuinely more things interesting about the party Dwight Howard hosts for Adidas than the dunk contest.

If you know what the 1976 dunk contest is, it's the infamous contest where Larry Kenon, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, David Thompson and of course Julius Erving compete. This is a real dunk contest:

Let's be honest though: That's not why the Dunk Contest was originally invented. The Dunk Contest was simply brought about to create more interest in the ABA All-Star game. It was done at halftime of the 1976 ABA All-Star game. The ABA-NBA merger hasn't happened yet. But a monster was born. The highlight for me was the 360 slam off the baseline that David Thompson throws down. Oh, and this was all done in 15 minutes I might add. FIFTEEN MINUTES. Julius Erving and David Thompson alone are worth 15 minutes of a modern day dunk contest. .In fact, Curtis Harris of Hardwood Paroxysm pointed out the Dunk Contest is very much salvageable.

The NBA All-Star game and all the events surrounding it typically are not very fun. It's mostly empty pointless rhetorical hype built to create a larger platform for the players and the league alike. The whole weekend is full of meetings, networking, and inflated hype. That's great if you are the NBA itself, or the players who love that kind of attention, or a fan/media member who enjoys that type of thing. For someone like me who thinks something like interviewing head coaches during timeouts of national TV games is exceptionally stupid? Well, hopefully you get where I'm going....

This is why so many people hate the dunk contest today. That's Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan. In fact, you will recognize some of the famous Jordan position photos that have been used who knows how many times from just this dunk contest.

Now, All-Star weekend has a weekend bash to open up festivities, a rookie-sophomore game highlighting notable events, a "skills" challenge that features dribbling, a 3 pt contest and a dunk contest. Oh, and a guarantee of a 150-145 score All-Star game where the word "exhibition" feels shame because of how little defense is expected. I understand all of this. I do, I really do. I would feel a lot more appreciative of this whole thing.

Now the highlight's of All-Star weekend are David Stern's press conference and annual "State of the NBA" address, the amount of vitriol that can be spewed at the All-Star proceedings over Twitter and how the All-Star weekend would be better if we the know it all blogger would run All-Star weekend.

I have an idea: Get rid of the game, the events like the dunk contest, skills challenge, 3 pt contest, rookie-sophomore game, and the fan jam. Just have lots of parties, lots of people running around acting like idiots, and a David Stern press conference that takes 3 and half hours. Now that is worth something. That is memorable. Hell, you could just show fans playing 21 on the Amway Center court and that would be more interesting than watching Kevin Hart do a supremely phony staged giving Jeremy Evans Karl Malone's rookie jersey from the Utah Jazz. The problem isn't that all of this is phony; the problem is that we as fans are expected to think this stuff is interesting. The NBA is especially interesting when the season is in session and with the typical ups & downs of a typical season. It doesn't need manafactured silly Hollywood drama to make us care about the All-Star weekend.

Honestly, the weekend is nothing but a chance to network and schmooze. It's a way for a lot of NBA executives to be able to talk without missing any important like their team actually playing a game. It's a way for ownership and city officials (like city of Sacramento and NBA officials) to meet each other to get a new arena done. It's a way for David Stern to push out his pro-owner rhetoric in a friendly and fairly non-threatening fashion. This is reason one why I miss the NBA lockout (the video is NSFW):

So here is what I would like to see replacing All-Star weekend.

1) David Sterns' 3 and 1/2 hour presser Saturday and get the highlight out of the way so everyone can have Sunday off doing whatever they do.
2) That's it. I don't care what anyone else does for the rest of the weekend. Call it a haiku, a hiatus, I don't care what you call it, but stop subjecting us to this ridiculousness known as All-Star weekend. Please?!?!?
3) If the NBA GM's still need to talk to each other about what Dwight Howard may decide, can't they do it over Skype like everyone else?

Actually, I've lied. I love All-Star weekend. It gives me 4 days to totally ignore the NBA about 50 games into the season with 30+ games of the regular season to go, and with the playoffs kicking into high gear. I'm glad it gives other people to do because I find the whole proceedings disturbingly pointless. I even found David Stern's presser to be more amusing from a silly vantage point than I did useful in finding out something about the NBA.

So, on behalf of the people who dislike All-Star weekend and everything that comes with it, I'd like to thank all of those people who do care about it. Thanks for paying attention!


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