It’s definitely better than the Pro Bowl, but the NBA’s All-Star Weekend is no slam dunk

Come Thursday night, the NBA will wind down the first half of the season with two thrillers. First, you will have a rematch of the NBA Finals from last season as Miami travels to Oklahoma City(and this could very well be a preview of this year’s finals as well), and then you will have a showdown in the city of angels. The Clippers will try to continue their winning ways against their cross building rivals(get it, I said cross building instead of cross town because they play in the same arena, well at least I thought it was funny), the Lakers. Once the final buzzer sounds on that contest, it’s off to Houston for the 2013 All-Star Weekend festivities. Now I know that the All-Star Game’s TV ratings have been climbing the past couple of years, until last year(“hey, let’s put the All-Star Game on TV at the same time as the Oscars!!” “Good idea!!”, said the two employees who were surely fired as soon as the ratings came out). However, I believe the NBA is not maximizing it’s potential throughout the entire weekend.

The game itself is not what I have a problem with. You can’t make superstars try in a game that is solely meant to be an honor. The game gets good enough ratings as is, and I still tune in because basketball is fun to watch when the score is 184-179. You get to watch the NBA’s elite throw alley oops to each other, and in the off chance that the game is close down the stretch they do actually try. The one problem that I have with the game is actually the voting process. This game is meant to showcase the leagues best players. It is not meant to be a popularity contest. I understand why the NBA allows fans to vote but it ruins the integrity of All-Star appearances. Think about it. When the talking heads debate whether or not someone is a hall of famer don’t they always bring up how many All-Star teams they’ve been on? How are you going to tell me that Joe Schmo from his couch, who doesn’t even know the first thing about basketball(he has heard of Kevin Garnett though), should have any say in who gets in the hall of fame? Most people would probably say, “you’re overreacting, it’s just the All-Star game.” That’s my point. This weekend should matter. It should be an honor for the best players in the league to say, “I’m an All-Star.” I think the NBA should allow a combination of the coaches and hall of fame committees to vote on All-Star appearances. If the committees aren’t willing to get involved with active players then the NBA should decide on a collection of well respected basketball journalists to vote on the All-Star game.

The biggest problem I have with this weekend is what happens on Saturday. These days, the slam dunk contest is essentially a joke. Remember when the slam dunk contest used to mean something? And it was more exciting then the game itself? Yeah, me too. But those days are long gone. One of my most vivid memories of any All-Star game is Vince Carter’s spectacular dunk fest of 2000. Carter threw down one unbelievable dunk after another, putting together a highlight reel for the ages. If you ask me, that is still the single greatest slam dunk performance of all time. No offense Mr. Jordan, but I’m sure you were watching the beginning of Vinsanity too. Anyone remember who assisted Carter in that slam dunk contest?? No peaking at the video, that’s cheating. Yes, it was a young Tracy Mcgrady. The most memorable moments in slam dunk history are definitely Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in the 80’s battling it out for the title of slam dunk champion. That concept seems laughable now a days, and that’s what has me steaming mad. Michael Jordan was the best player in the NBA every time he competed in the slam dunk contest(hell, he was the best player whenever he did anything). Fans also got to see greats like Clyde Drexler and Scottie Pippen perform once upon a time. That is what the fans want to see today. They want the best players in the league to battle it out like the slam dunk contest still means something. You have to be an avid basketball fan to even know who the competitors are in this years contest.  No offense to the guys competing, but are you tuning in to watch Terrence Ross?  Nope, didn’t think so.  Lebron James and the rest of the superstars of the league are doing the NBA a disservice by not competing. They are only hurting themselves and their brand by not putting together the best show possible at a star studded weekend.  I mean, it’s not like any of the guys we want to see would be inconvenienced by competing.  They are already going to be in Houston.  Instead of tweeting little jokes to cause a stir about possibly maybe hopefully competing in the dunk contest(what a subtle way to get attention buddy), Lebron should come on TV and emphatically say, “I’m going to bring the dunk contest back to life by competing in it and winning it!” If he did that and implored other superstar dunkers like Russell Westbrook to compete, everyone else would follow suit. Listen I’ll still be watching all the events this weekend, including New York Knick James White in the dunk contest, but don’t tell me you wouldn’t rather see Lebron do a 720 dunk or watch him dunk from the 3-point line. Insert haha here…

Here’s the slam dunk roster I would like to see:

Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, J.R. Smith, Javele McGee, and Josh Smith

Now tell me you wouldn’t tune in to watch that!

If you want to see more of my work, please check me out at intheneutralzone.com.  I am now a contributing author on that site as well.

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