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Well the 2012 version of the NBA All-Star Weekend is past.

The West beat the East in the main event but few people really care about the actual game anyway. It’s not like the winning conference has home court advantage in the NBA finals after all.

Kevin Love won the 3 point shooting contest which was impressive, but no one really believes Kevin Love is the best perimeter shooter in the league. Jeremy Evans won the slam dunk contest but did nothing spectacular in doing so. Team Chuck beat Team Shaq in what is dubbed the Rising Stars Game but it was even less interesting than the formerly named Rookie-Sophomore game. Does anyone even know who won the Skills competition?

All in all the weekend wasn’t really that spectacular. For the most part the events looked scripted, forced and incredibly boring. Not exactly the event that the league hoped would re-energize the fans still somewhat apathetic after the lockout before the season.

The best part of the All-Star weekend might be the improved play fans see when the teams, finally well rested again, take the court this week.

It’s too bad because it doesn’t have to be this way. With just a few changes the All-Star weekend could be truly entertaining putting it way above any other All-Star event.

The players need to understand that this weekend is not about them. The honor to be named to the teams is for them but the actual event is for the fans.

That means no more players refusing to compete in events unless actually injured and unable to participate in any of the events. It is a complete slap in the face of the fans to have Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard and Lebron James participate in Sunday’s game but refuse to compete in the slam dunk contest. For a league that already slapped the fans hard with the lockout and shortened season (while still charging full price for the NBA League Pass) they owe the fans something.

But it is hard to ask millionaires to care about the middle class fans who pay their salaries. I am sure if pushed the players will just fake injuries and bag out of the event all together. That is not what anyone wants.

So can the league do to improve the experience? Glad you asked.

First, the legendary Slam Dunk Contest. The league doesn’t understand why it is not so popular. I can tell you why. Too many gimmicks. Too much media talking and not enough actual dunks. People don’t want a bunch of time wasted while people roll out motorcycles, change into Superman Costumes in a phone booth or even changing their outfits during the competition. They want to see incredible dunks. That is all.

And they want to know who the players are that are dunking the ball.

My suggestion is to radically change the contest. First, select the 10 best dunks in actual NBA games from the first half of the season. Let the fans vote for their favorites and the top 4 make it to the contest. That eliminates people in the contest who no one has seen actually dunk the ball.

That part is easy. It would require the players agreeing to participate but that goes back to my first point anyway. The players need to understand that the weekend is for the fans.

Then we really change things around. Instead of multiple freestyle dunks, the players must do the same dunks for the first three dunks. The best two are decided by a panel of past slam dunk winners. The finalists then get one final dunk to show their stuff and let the fans vote for the winner.

This would dramatically increase interest. Instead of Chase Budinger, Jeremy Evans, Derrick Williams and Paul George the fans would get Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and maybe Rudy Gay. The players only have to come up with one dunk on their own too instead of four or more. Sure it would be less imagination but then again it means fewer no names in the event.

Finally, get rid of Kenny Smith. He may be a good setup man in a studio but he is terrible announcing. If nothing else happens the league needs to replace him.

For the 3 Pt Shootout simply invite the top 6 players by 3 pt % with a minimum number of attempts taken. The fans want to know who is the best 3 point shooter overall after all. No one wants to see Kevin Love win the contest. They want to see real 3 pt shooters battling it out under pressure. Again, it requires the players to accept the invitation but that goes back to my position that the players need to understand the All-Star weekend isn’t for them. It is for the fans.

Scrap the Shaq vs Chuck experiments and let the Rookies face the Sophomores again. It makes more sense. And let it be coached by the coaches who were runners-up to coach the all-star game. Real coaches make for better games anyway. Move the Skills competition from Saturday night to halftime of the Rookie-Sophomore game as well. It deserves its own setting.

Finally, cap the minutes played in the All-Star game to 24. Once a player passes the 24 minute mark he is out of the game. It’s nice to see Durant, LeBron and Kobe play backyard ball for a while but 30+ minutes is too much. Let the other all-stars get a chance to play as well.

If the league wants to have all-star events then they need to have all-stars competing in them. Stop this nonsense with no names filling up the events. The only reason fans are bored with the events now is that the league  and players don’t give them any reason to be excited.



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3 Responses to How To Improve All-Star Weekend

  1. PaperNo Gravatar says:

    it’s actually important about 24 min. lock. truely i hate scott brooks, kavin durant and esspecially westbrook and see them own allstar

  2. Chris FaulknerNo Gravatar says:

    The players need to understand that this weekend is not about them. The honor to be named to the teams is for them but the actual event is for the fans.

    That’s it right there man. I couldn’t agree more with every point you made about changing All Star Weekend – spot on!

    These players (more specifically these All Stars) all make a TON of money playing in the NBA … I’m not sure why they think they deserve a whole week/weekend to horseplay while having their every whim catered to … isn’t that kinda sorta what their whole career is anyway?

    You really get a sense of how entitled the players feel at ASW when they are interviewed. For example:

    “What does your team need to do to finish strong in the 2nd half of the season?” says the reporter.

    “Oh man … you know, we’re just here having fun in Orlando and relaxing with each other man,” says the NBA star.

    I mean, really? They can’t muster up a 10 second reply about getting more intense on D, shooting better from the arc, better ball movement yada yada yada … because they’re just having fun?

    Perhaps the event should be renamed from All Star Weekend to All Star Vacation Retreat.

    Back to the Dunk Contest … everyone needs to go back and watch the contests from 1985-1988 … THAT is what the competition is about – NBA stars going head to head and bringing out the fiery competitor in each other. I had the pleasure of getting to go back and re-watch a contest in which Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler are all performing at an incredible level. Our era of NBA has nothing even close to this and it’s a shame because we have some of the best athletes to ever walk the earth playing in the NBA right now. And one more thing …

    How is Rudy Gay not in the Dunk Contest???? The man has multiple sportscenterworthy dunks every game and I figured we’d (and he’d) still be small-market enough to make it in under the current format. Alas no… they’d rather parade out players that won’t even be in the league in 3 years.

  3. JustinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m sorry, but the same dunks? First of all, that would not be enjoyable to watch. Second of all, it’s already been done exactly ten years ago. Do you remember the dunk wheel? That was a catastrophe; people hated it. In the final round, the two guys had to do the same dunk based on spinning a stupid looking wheel.

    Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace drew the free throw line dunk. Wallace pulled it off, but Richardson couldn’t because he’s a two leg power dunker, not a running dunker. It almost cost him the contest. However, Jason Richardson is one of the best dunk contest guys ever with some of the most amazing dunks in its history. The dunk wheel, which in essence is what you’re describing, only lasted one year because of what a failure it was.

    So here’s the problem: all dunkers are different. They have different strengths, and different weaknesses, and to judge them on the same dunks is a mistake. Some guys can palm the ball, and that helps with certain dunks; some guys cannot palm, but they can still have great dunks.

    Additionally, dunkers should not be chosen based on how many in game dunks they have. Some of the greatest performances have come from people who don’t dunk much in games. Remember the mid 80’s, that nostalgic sliver of time you pine for? That had Spud Webb, and under your system he would not be chosen.

    It’s also astounding how misinformed people are about the dunk contest. You’re demanding Rudy Gay in the contest? Um, do you realize he was there in 2008 and he was lackluster?

    Last weekend I looked at the “star power” of each dunk contest, and found that it really hasn’t changed much over the years. There have always been a lot of no-name types, but so are the champions (well, until they win.) There’s also the retrospective problem that having young guys in the contest has. Many past contests featured a young player who later went on to be a great one. At the time he was a nobody, but when you look back you’ll say that contest had a star. That will probably happen with someone in the 2012 one like Paul George.

    I know I wrote a lot on this already, but if you want more details last weekend I went in depth on this topic:

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