NBA All-Star Weekend(best by default)

The entire All-Star weekend can be summed up in one word, Blah.  It is the best All-Star festivities of all the major sports, but it’s the best by default.  The game itself is what it is, and I don’t expect that to change much in the future.  It is a fun way for the NBA’s best to showcase their skills.  The rest of the world had the pleasure of learning what some of us have known for about a year now, that Kyrie Irving is an exceptional talent.  In two or three years, we will all be talking about Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving as the top point guards in the NBA.  On a side note, everyone can stop talking about Lebron returning to Cleveland to team up with Kyrie, it’s not going to happen.  I watched most of the events this weekend, but I watched simply because it was the only thing on television.  I understand that All-Star weekend is meant for fun, but it needs to be revamped.  It needs to regain it’s oomph.  Yeah, I used the word oomph.  The event with the most room for improvement is definitely the Slam Dunk Contest.  I hope someone from the NBA catches wind of this article and takes the advice I’m about to give (for free).  I spoke to this issue in my preview of the All-Star weekend, but the Slam Dunk Contest needs to be changed drastically.  Literally the only part they’ve gotten right is that the players compete for a charity.  Other than that, the event is a disaster.  I think we can all agree we want to see the premier leapers and dunkers in the game in the contest.  Everyone knows who I’m talking about (cough, Lebron, cough).  The question is how do we get these Superstars to enter the dunk contest?  We all know that money isn’t the answer(lord knows Lebron makes enough of that).  Apparently it isn’t enough of an honor for them to do it willingly.  So, how do we get the best players in the NBA to compete in the lowly dunk contest?  The answer is to call them out; plain and simple.  All the commentators and former players who have transformed into media personnel can joke about how scared Lebron is to fail, but what eats away at a self conscience Superstar like “King” James more than anything else?  You need to tell him he can’t do it.  What inspires athletes to succeed more than adversity?  The answer to that would be nothing.  You must also convince him that it really matters.  You must convince him that it’s another notch that must be added to his belt of career achievements.  And who must implore him and the other great leapers of the world to compete?  None other than the man they all idolized as a kid, Michael “Air” Jordan.  You all saw how quickly Lebron reacted when MJ told everyone he’d take Kobe over him any day of the week.  I think it’s that simple.  All the fans want is a better show.  They want the guys they know can come up with new and innovative dunks to show off on the big stage.  With a new and improved approach to All-Star Weekend, the NBA’s superstars are the only ones who can revive this special event.  By the way, they really need to put a limit on the number of dunk attempts each contestant gets.  A minute and a half is way too long to watch some no name try the same dunk over and over and over again (and they don’t get penalized for missing 1, 789 attempts before finally throwing it down).  As the panel of Shaq, Charles, Kenny the Jet, and C Webb said, “We’ll call it the Birdman Rule.”  All we want to see is the dunk contest come back to it’s original form.  Will there be a savior or will it head toward extinction like the Pro Bowl?

My humblest apologies Mr. Jordan

Let me start by saying I think this discussion is down right ridiculous. I think the people who dare put Lebron James in the same sentence as Michael Jordan should be ashamed of themselves. I am simply here to defend Michael Jordan and his legacy. As usual, I have to educate those who can not educate themselves. It seems that fans and media personnel of this era live in the moment too much(thanks Facebook, thanks Twitter). It’s like people who saw Michael Jordan play forget just how dominant he was. And the people who never saw him play don’t do the proper research to understand and pay homage to his greatness. All they know is what is right in front of their face. Now I love having a thought provoking debate, but don’t you think we’re overreacting to Lebron’s accomplishments? NO? Not even a little bit? Okay, well let’s agree to disagree. I’m going to explain why all the Lebron fanatics are wrong.

We as responsible journalists must give Lebron all the credit he is due. He is the best player in the world right now. His combination of size, strength, leaping ability, and quickness are unmatched. The stretch he’s going through has never been seen before. Through his last six games his offensive efficiency is off the charts, averaging 30.8 points per game while shooting an amazing 72% from the field. As an all around talent we all know how talented Lebron is, and when it comes time for him to hang ’em up, I’m sure he will end up being one of the top 5 greatest players of all time(he has the potential to be the 2nd best of all-time, but not yet).  With all that being said, we still need to bring all of the Jordan comparisons to a tire screeching halt. For those of you who never saw MJ play, or for those who are having selective memory loss, let me remind you just how GREAT he was. Michael Jordan played in 15 NBA seasons, one being cut short due to injury and another due to his first retirement. His list of accolades is too long to mention every one, so I will do my best to highlight the most impressive ones. MJ was the NBA MVP 5 times and also won 10 scoring titles. He won rookie of the year, defensive player of the year, and was the leagues leader in steals 3 separate times. Last but not least, he appeared in 6 NBA Finals where he won all 6 and was named the Finals MVP in all 6. Not only did he win every Finals he ever played in, but the opposition never even took his greatness to a decisive game 7. Michael was also one of the best on ball defenders the league has ever seen. The list keeps going and going, but I think we all understand that Michael Jordan is the best basketball player that ever played. Period. The things that didn’t show up on the stat sheet were the things we really loved about Michael. His incredible will to win, his uncanny trash talk during games, and his incredible ability to hit game winning shots in the clutch. Those attributes are part of what made Michael so great. By the way, just imagine if Michael never took almost two years off in the middle of his prime to play baseball and never retired the 2nd time. I think he’d have at least 2 more championship trophies in his trophy room at home. I’m just saying, unfortunately we’ll never know what could have happened.

Now, the problem is ever since MJ finished his final game a decade ago everyone has been searching for the heir to his thrown.  For Lebron, this all started back in Akron, Ohio when the media donned him as the Next MJ.  This task has always put too much pressure on Lebron and forced him to live up to a standard rather than be himself.  During the early part of his career, that pressure brought about insecurities and highlighted his mental weakness.  For an athlete of his stature to care what people think about him is astonishing to me.  From the pressure of carrying a mediocre Cavaliers squad to the NBA Finals(and get swept) to his departure to South Beach, he has shown that the pressure was too much to handle.  He seems to finally be finding his stride, and we are witnessing Lebron in his prime.  Lebron’s ceiling is to become the 2nd best player of all time.  To do that he needs to win at least 4 or more titles and at least 3 or more MVP’s.  However, I still think to be compared to MJ you need to be “the guy” and not use such a talented supporting cast to win titles.  Most people think I’m being ridiculous but if you want to be compared to the best, your greatness needs to stick out like a sore thumb.  And just like Kobe, you can’t be the best who ever did it when you play with the likes of Shaq.  Sorry.

The bottom line is we live in the society of the “knee-jerk reaction”.  This has caused the sports world to act and react to everything in a matter of seconds.  It’s good because we can stay current and up to date with important events, but it’s bad because we jump to conclusions too quickly when it comes to athletes, teams, and coaches.  Everyone needs to pump the brakes with this Lebron vs. MJ talk, and just let Lebron be Lebron.  I promise you will enjoy his achievements much more, and we will also realize that there has always been and will always be 1 Michael Jordan.

P.S.  Happy 50th Birthday Michael!!


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