The NBA All Star Weekend. It’s that time of the year when the best and the brightest NBA young guns, up-and-comers and even superstars gather for one weekend and exhibit their exceptional talent in front of the basketball world. The All Star Weekend is also the time when players from different teams bond, create new relationships and yes it’s also a time when superstars use the event to recruit incoming superstar free agents to join their team after the current NBA season. It’s also when the NBA and its players give time to their fans as they show their love and respect to them and the local community (in this year’s case Manhattan and Brooklyn).
The All Star Weekend is also when I remember the legendary moments of All Star Weekends past. Memories such as Larry Bird’s 3 championships at the 3 point Shootout, the jaw dropping and highlight reel rolling dunks of Dominique Wilkins, Larry Nance, David Thompson, Spud Webb and Michael Jordan, the hot shooting of Craig Hodges during the 1991 edition of the 3 point Shootout, Jordan’s performance in the 1997, 1998 and 2003 All Star Games and the hotly contested 1987 All Star Game featuring the pressure packed freethrows of Rolando Blackman (Dallas Mavericks, West All Stars) and his infamous reaction “CONFIDENCE BABY”.
Every year both hardcore and casual fans wait for memories that will be added to basketball lore. Whether it’s the Rising Stars Challenge: World vs USA, where The World Team won 121-112 behind game MVP Andrew Wiggins’ 22 points, the Skills Challenge that was won by Patrick Beverly, the Shooting Stars Challenge where Chris Bosh (Miami Heat), Swin Cash (Chicago Sky) and the legendary Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks) won the championship for the third straight year, the duel between “the Splash Brothers” Steph Curry (eventual Champion) and Klay Thompson at the 3 Point Shootout, and who will ever forget the Space Jam dunk by Zach LaVine? And of course the annual battle of NBA stars, big guns vs big guns, East vs West in the All Star Game, in which the West won 163-158.
Like always, the NBA superstars wowed the crowd with dazzling moves both in the All Star side events (Rising Stars, Skills, Shooting, Dunk or my personal favorite the 3 Point Shootout) and the main event, the All Star Game. While I didn’t get to catch all the happenings, I got to enjoy most of it, like the thrilling Skills Challenge where Patrick Beverely shocked the competition and won this year’s title. The fiery 27-point performance by Steph Curry during the 3-point shootout gave me the much needed boost on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I’m happy that they reverted the Dunk Contest back to its original format (because last year’s rules sucks balls). The Dunk Contest featured the duel between rising stars Victor Oladipo and Zach LaVine–well it WAS a duel until Oladipo got tired and started missing dunks while LaVine went on auto pilot when he felt he got the title in the bag. In addition the final round between Oladipo and LaVine kinda went downhill as both youngsters failed to give the crowd a mind blowing moment. Anyway, I’m happy that the original format and scoring is back, I wish they keep it for years to come.
Finally, the main event, the All Star Game. Boy, where do I begin? Well ever since it went on to become like a pop version of Woodstock with basketball players rubbing elbows with Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez being head cheerleader, and Puff Daddy (yes I still want to call him Puff Daddy) or whatever his n’s is singing a gazillion songs (or artists that are similar to him) and just recently Ariana Grande belting out incoherent lyrics of her hit song. Then the game itself can be described as a glorified intra-squad practice. I can understand players standing around for 3 quarters or 2 1/2 quarters before ball movement and actual defense is played but in this year’s addition, wow, it’s like watching a train going head to head with a poodle.
I’m not saying it was a complete disaster but as a fan who grew up in the 90’s, I had the pleasure of watching old game tapes of All Star Games past, the glorious 80’s Bird, Magic, a young MJ, Isaiah Thomas, Tom Chambers, Blackman, Dantley, Moses Malone, Julius Irving et al. The 90’s with Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Shawn Kemp to name few. The early 2000s with Kobe Bryant, a 40 year old Jordan (yeah I’m a fan), Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Stephon Marbury and others. The names I mentioned played how an All Star game should be played, they gave us a show and they gave effort. Games from 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, and I could go on and on, are still better (despite the ridiculous high scores) and had intensity and players showed effort on both ends. While I admit that I was still entertained, I still long for both players from the East and the West playing “intense D” when the game is on the line, not just stand around wait for someone to miss, run the break and maybe score.
If I can give this game a rating I would like to give it an average rating (last year I can give a rating of very good because they actually played D down the stretch, and not just allow the other team WIDE OPEN THREES, the East actually defended last year).
I know that this is one of the few times when players can actually enjoy, blow off some steam and go nuts but there are still fans who want to see effort. I’m confident that I’m not the only one who craves an All Star Game that is won by grit and determination (like the 2001 All Star Game, see I told you I can go on and on) or with the drama that is the 2003 Game. I feel that no matter how small or big we are we deserve that kind of action as well.
Overall both the sideshows and the main event delivered enough to give one good weekend, especially to those who stayed at home and forced their girlfriends (or boyfriends) to watch the event. Fans of the Three Point Shootout were thrilled with the Curry outburst, LaVine’s memorable dunks will be shown over and over again in future dunk contest montages. Young players such as Andrew Wiggins, Nikola Mirotic, Trey Burke, Giannis Ante.. err Ante… (googles the name) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mason Plumlee, Victor Oladipo to name a few, showed the world that the future of the NBA is in good (or should I say best) hands.
Is this one of my favorite All Star Weekends? No, but it’s still fun and if you have extra space in your hard drive download it or if you’re subscribed to NBA TV or NBA Premium (or you only have Basketball TV) watch it, it’s still basketball and it’s still entertaining.
So folks that’s it for now and by the way, LeBron chickened out on yet another Dunk Contest to attend a fashion show, what a douche.