Tuesday , Feb , 20 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Pointless Observations From NBA All-Star Weekend

It’s like somebody just played a joke on me.

Scratch that one. Not somebody, that implies a wide array of
possibilities. No, I know exactly who pulled this one on me. All-Star
Weekend just clowned on me.


Pointless Observations From NBA All-Star Weekend

You see, for too long (or not long enough depending on the perspective) my digits have delivered damning words on the spectacular event known as All-Star Weekend. I’ve called out its legitimacy, its relevancy, its purpose, its focus, and how its participants are selected – I’ve damn near done everything but made some snide comment about Momma All-Star Weekend. If the universe has a sense of humor, it’s a cruel one.

If anything, the position I find myself in right now is my fault, not because I’m wrong about anything I’ve said regarding All-Star Weekend, on the contrary I’m pretty sure I’m still right. I’m getting one up side the noggin because I failed to see it coming. I’ve never taken much time to really write about All-Star Weekend, ever, unless I’m criticizing it. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it, because I do, very much so. But as a columnist, there’s no angle, no real story, no statement to be made. But with all hoops talk since last Thursday being centralized around All-Star, well, that’s about there is left to talk about.

In the space that follows I will summarize, in lucid detail, all that All-Star Weekend is about – absolutely nothing. This is what I’m reduced in the post All-Star aftermath, a Seinfeld-esque column about nothing. Don’t blame me; blame David Stern.

Friday – Celebrity Game and Rookie/Sophomore Game

I didn’t watch it. I don’t care. The end.

Next.

Seriously, neither the celebrity game nor the Rook/Soph challenge has ever interested me. I’d rather get strung upside down by my testicles from a ceiling fan and count backwards in Japanese then watch David Arquette and Carrot Top try to play basketball. And as much as the thought of Reggie Bush and LaDainian Tomlinson hooping it up may seem intriguing, I hear Reggie sprained an ankle early, further proving pro athletes should only play their sport, when they’re getting paid for it.

As for the rookie-sophomore game, while it has proven to be entertaining at times, it never amounts to anything more than a dunk filled blow out for the sophomores. "But things do change," you protest. Let me see here. 155-114 sophomores win. No. They don’t. When Greg Oden and Kevin Durant jump to the league and play in this game, then maybe it will be interesting again, and then maybe I’ll watch again. Until then, I’ll use my Friday nights for better things, like removing my eyebrows or drinking lava, you know, stuff that’s more fun.

Saturday – Skills, Three-Point, and Dunk Contest

Thankfully, there are some interesting aspects to All-Star Weekend, and Saturday night never fails to disappoint. I’m not sure what they call that thing with the WNBA players and "legends" (does Bill Laimbeer really qualify and a legend?), but it’s pointless, I don’t care.

Moving on.

I’ve seen quite a few things in my short life, but few of them have ever been as entertaining as seeing Charles Barkley race Dick Bevetta. Watching a 44-year-old fat man sprint full speed (relatively speaking of course) against an old skinny referee is rivaled in entertainment value only by the footage of that bear falling out of a tree and unto a trampoline. As far as I’m concerned an overweight, over the hill, television sports analyst managing to run at all is as hilarious as a humongous mammal launching twenty feet into the air.

Is anyone else surprised at how seriously Dick Bevetta took the whole thing? He came out with a game face and everything, and looked genuinely pissed that he lost. And by now everyone’s seen his dive for the finish line. I sure hope he’s heated that the round mound beat him, that’s all we need to see a rematch next year.

Just so long as they refrain from kissing each other afterwards. I’m not about to pull a Tim Hardaway, I got no problems with the man on man loving, but even if one of them was a woman (just stay with me here) I’d still have a problem with that level of affection between competitors, even if it was for charity. I was half expecting Bevetta to go give Chuck a tech.

Unfortunately, that mismatched sprint was actually one of the high points. The Skills competition was decent. I picked Chris Paul going in, since he is the was the only true point guard going in, leave to him to be the one who struggled the worst on the passes. It’s kind of difficult to take this seriously when it’s obvious the players don’t. Everyone looked like they were asleep on cruise control. All Dwyane Wade needed to do to repeat as Skills championship is put forth one iota of effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Skills Challenge, it’s my second favorite event next to the dunk contest, but I’ll be more interested next year when Steve Nash hopefully returns to give Wade a challenge.

The three-point shootout was surprisingly more fun to watch then it usually is. I have to admit I really got into it when Gilbert Arenas  started heating up. When GA drained 23 in the first round, I swear you could probably hear me screaming "hibachi!" from down the street. I give Kapono his props for edging out Arenas, but after Gilbert damn near set a competition record (which Craig Hodges currently holds with 25) it almost felt wrong that he didn’t win.

The only thing worse than seeing Arenas lose, was having to watch Damon Jones be there at all. I got no problem with confidence, but Damon Jones has to take the crown for biggest talker with no game in the league. He’s lobbied since forever to get into the shootout, based on how he’s the greatest shooter in the history of basketball. That and his ridiculous suits place him firmly on my "shut up and go away" list.

Lastly, we had the dunk contest. Overall, I think it was lacking, and not as good as last year’s, but then we seem to say that every year now. There were some good dunks and great moments and I suppose that’s as much as we can ask now-a-days.

For the record, stop putting Nate Robinson in this thing. I have to admit, the dunk when he pulled the damn ball back so far it looked like he should have strained something, that was a nice jam. But we were still subjected to another one of his attempt marathons, where he takes forever to complete one dunk and then we’re supposed to give him credit for "persistence." Look, I enjoy a 5’5 guy getting up on the rim as much as the next fan, but eventually we have to start judging it for what it is, a novelty act.

Besides my minor protest of Nate’s copious amount of attempts, I was generally happy with the event. Even though I never got around to getting it to print, I had been calling Gerald Green to win since they announced the contestants, and I was all too happy to see him put it down. From the moment he took the pass off the side of the backboard, I knew it was over. Dude’s head was over the rim; when a player combines that kind of creativity with that kind of athleticism, he just deserves to win.

Best moment goes to Dwight Howard, bar none. I questioned his flexibility and creativity as a big man in this competition, but I underestimated his personality, and that aspect counts for a lot in the dunk contest. His twelve and half foot sticker dunk will be etched in my memory for a while, and I think I’ll always think of that dunk, among other, when I think of the dunk contest. Massive props to Dwight Howard.

I would have liked it if the final round had been a bit more climactic, but I’ll take a table hoping wind-mill dunk when I can get it.

Sunday – All-Star Game

I’d like to put up some veracious verbiage of summation to recount every moment of the All-Star Game, but the unfortunate truth is that game itself is just not as interesting as it once was. The game itself is beginning to descend down to the level of the rookie-sophomore game, a dunk filled blow out. It would have been nice if we could have seen another East come back, ala 2001 in Washington DC or other similar years, but in order for that to happen someone on the East would actually have to care about winning.

And what’s this shit the commentators kept pushing, about the players care so much because the winners of the game $35,000 compared to the losers who only get $15,000. These guys are multi-million dollar athletes who lack motivation most of the time anyway, giving them 15 grand for just showing up to pointless game is as good a way as any to get them not to play hard. How about winners gets $35,000, which the losers have to pay out of pocket, now that will get guys hustling.

Minuscule payment aside, there were some very watchable moments. For as much as I give Vince Carter a hard time about constantly getting into All-Star Game through fan votes, he actually deserved it this year based on his play and the coaches put him in. Thankfully, he was as entertaining as ever, and his spin move and dunk may have been one of the best plays of the game.

Favorite players for me to watch in the game had to be Dwight Howard, maybe I was still just on his bandwagon after the dunk contest, or maybe the kid can just straight ball with the best of them. I couldn’t stop noticing how big he is either, even Amare Stoudemire looks small matched up against him. If the East were even close, I’d have to make a case for Howard’s dominance as MVP. But then the East wasn’t close, and Howard didn’t win MVP, which brings me to my final burn.

Kobe Bryant. Look, me and Kobe have already made up. He is hoops royalty and I bow and give royal props when the situation is appropriate. That being said, I couldn’t help but hope he sprained an ankle or twisted a knee late in the game, or at the very least I’d like to have seen him get pulled from the game. Many of you may not agree with me, but I don’t like to see a player dominate the ball towards the end of a blow out in an All-Star game to pad stats.

It’s a situation where no one, coaches or otherwise, is going to say anything in protest and Kobe knows this. I’m all for competitiveness in All-Star Games, but it should also be an unselfish occasion, not one where Mr. Bryant is off trying to grab his own shine, and able to do so only because no one else on the floor genuinely gives a shit anymore. If I sound upset, I am. Maybe it’s just me, but it seriously irked me because it was so obvious what he was doing. I’ll get over it, and no it doesn’t really matter, but it is worth mentioning.

The Wrap-up

There is none. It’s the All-Star Game. I just got 1,900 words out of nothing, there is no wrap up. If you don’t like it, don’t protest to me about my content, protest to the NBA about its content.