Do we have everyone’s attention now?
No, no you don’t.
Just like that the celebration of the NBA’s biggest names, brightest young stars and the culture of American professional basketball wrapped for another year. Much like this year’s incarnation of the dunk contest, the weekend ended before most casual sports fans had a chance to wrap their head around the fact that the NBA’s All-Star Weekend was occurring.
Some of the shine was taken away from #ASW due to the presence of the Olympics, but the main culprit for the blink of the eye type feeling the NBA gave their fans this weekend, is the blueprint of the overall time frame of the event. The Thunder and Lakers played in the late window of TNT’s national broadcast on Thursday night, meaning that fans on the East Coast would have to stay up late in order to watch the final broadcast before the rookie-sophomore game on Friday night.
The jump between the regular season and all-star festivities just wasn’t enough, but if you wanted to make the argument that the NBA only has enough original ideas to fill out a weekend’s worth of events that fail to deliver, it’s completely valid. If you got up to grab a smoothie at Smoothie King Arena on Saturday night, you probably missed the a good chunk of the dunk contest. Odds are you definitely missed the freestyle round, which I found to actually be pretty entertaining. I love the idea of three guys being able to work on dunk routines in practice that look like NBA Street Vol.2 come to life.:
I thought this part of the event was more of a showcase for Ben McLemore than Shaq handing over the crown of Shaq-Ramento to the rookie during the horrendously confusing and disappointing battle round. Damian Lillard also used the freestyle round as a way to show off that he belonged in a dunk contest. The framework for a successful attraction is there, but why not have six separate players who are just there to participate in a freestyle dunk contest and then another group who is there for a more traditional dunk contest. It just seems like LeBron might be a little more excited to do a dunk contest where he gets to show off his ability to pass the ball.
The first quarter of the all-star game featured dunks that trumped anything that was thrown down during the dunk contest. Here’s LeBron’s ridiculous alley-oop windmill:
I mean, c’mon now. That’s a 50.
It was interesting to watch two of the most disappointing players from the first half of the season shine for the East (Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony) as the two best players in the Western Conference over the last two months (Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant), controlled the flow for the West throughout most of the game. LeBron had a normal LeBron game by his standards, but Kyrie’s handles were the most impressive skill on display.
There just wasn’t a soul to this year’s festivities in New Orleans. The level of talent throughout the weekend was just right, but the event as a whole felt like it was over quicker than Twitter’s reaction to Bode Miller’s post-race interview. There isn’t one aspect of the weekend that should be talked about during the off day on Monday. This wasn’t a celebration of the NBA. It was a celebration of the “star” power associated with the NBA. Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Pharrell, Diddy, Nelly, Janelle Monae, fat Busta Rhymes and Kevin Hart put on more of a show than the unexciting final three quarters of the all-star game and the horrendously bad All-Star Saturday Night.
I’m not quite sure I’ll ever forget the taste this year’s dunk contest left in my mouth. I was disgusted by the conclusion of the contest. It was a complicated disaster for everyone watching at home and especially for the live audience who appeared to care less about what was transpiring in front of them.
The crowd had no idea what John Wall’s dunk meant for the contest. Not only was it the best dunk of the night, his awesome reverse dunk over the Wizards mascot (WHY ISN’T THE MASCOT A WIZARD?) was also the reason why there would be no more dunks for the rest of the night. The East swept the competition, leaving quite a few people wondering what was going to happen next. I would hope the idea of pulling an audible and adding another round of the event, which would have been an awesome dunk off between Paul George, John Wall and Terrance Ross would have crossed someone’s mind during the finishing sequence of the event, but it’s probably just a nice thought.
Perhaps the three point contest should close the show next year. At least a clear winner is determined, even though for some reason an effing moneyball rack was added to this year’s event. The three-point contest is just fine. There’s no reason for someone in the NBA to add any wrinkles to the best part of #ASSN. The Skills Challenge duo thing is cool I guess and the shooting stars event has to stay around just so Karl Malone can show off the muscle he gained while pulling his truck filled with the trees he chopped en route to the arena.
The best basketball played during the weekend was the rookie-sophomore game. The one-on-one show Dion Waiters and Tim Hardaway Jr. put on was exactly what we want LeBron vs. Durant to be every time the Thunder and Heat play each other.
The crowd was engaged in a way the rest of the weekend just seemed to miss. The young guys didn’t wait until the final seven minutes of the game to play defense. The night belonged to Waiters and Hardaway Jr. for putting on a show, but Andre Drummond looked like he wanted to make a name for himself. You don’t just put up a 30-25 by accident, even if it’s a game where no one wants to box out.
We kept waiting for LeBron and Durant to replicate what Waiters and Hardaway Jr. did on Saturday night. We’re still waiting. We’re still waiting for this weekend to mean something.
Add this to Adam Silver’s to do list.
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