|Jerry Vision turned off is still more exciting then
most of All Star Weekend
NBA All Star Weekend, bar none, was the best of it’s kind in sports. Key word: was. Even with 108,713 fans in Dallas, the mid-season event was anything but classic. It seems wasted potential is now an NBA staple. The slam dunk contest was one of the most anticipated events of the year and it did deliver. It all delivered. Announcers last Sunday had so little to talk about Jerry Vision was often taking center stage. Watching a enormous screen on a little screen at home.
So what’s wrong? Plenty. Can it be fixed? Absolutely! 10 sure fire (and simple) ways to instantly return all star to something meaningful, as follows.
1. Change The CBA
The easiest fix of them all! With the Collective Bargaining Agreement about to be renegotiated it’s time they addressed something besides money. If the CBA makes the game easier to promote there will be more money for all. Right?
Players are required to take part in NBA Cares and a platitude of other events so just get rid of ‘invitations’ and make participation in all star events mandatory. If the NBA is picking it’s most electric stars to compete those guys are heading to all star anyway: time off is a non-factor.
Fans watch the NBA because they want to see the highest level of competition. No one tuned in to see Gerald Wallace make an uncontested ally oop dunk. I want to see the best shooters alive, not Daquan Cook. I want to see players with pride on the line in HORSE. Lebron vs Kobe vs Durant vs Wade would deliver entertainment Omri Caspi just can’t bring to the table.
2. Jocks Are Pretty Stupid, Get Off The Mic
|This is spontaneous and awesome. More!|
Most players are in reality pretty dull people. If someone like Shaq or Dwight are entertaining, by all means highlight them and let them speak to the fans. Giving Shaq his own dance with the Jabberwokkeez in Phoenix is one of the best all star moments ever. But why spend time interviewing someone with softball questions about their ‘strategy’ before a shootout? No one wants to hear an athlete stammer through a few sentences trying to find a colorful way to say “I’m going to try and make more shots then the other guy.”
Fans want action. We tune in to watch stars ‘play
|This is not spontaneous, or awesome. Less! NONE!
Just Spare Us!
sports’. That’s why they are called ‘players’ not actors. If I wanted to hear someone speak I’ll watch actors who are paid million to speak. Past contests with multiple rounds/competitors have been traded in for talking heads standing around mumbling players waiting for something to happen. Players get crazy, grab the mic or yell into a camera and that’s cool because it’s spontaneous. The NBA needs to ditch obligatory stadium speaker interviews. They suck. It’s staged. No one cares. It drags everything down.
3. How To Fix Horse
|If the NBA introduces competitions as a TNT
joke, how can it entice serious players to
Getting rid of the ultra-stupid G.E.I.C.O. format was a tiny first step, but this could easily be the crown jewel of all professional All Star events. For two years it’s been more boring then 3 ball. The NBA got so much wrong I need a bullet list just to keep it organized.
- Step one means players we actually want to see compete. Lebron vs Kobe makes this a real competition and electric because they will NOT want to lose. They have pride. HORSE just became 500% better, instantly.
- Allow dunks already! Who cares if not everyone can dunk. This is the highest level of competition and if you can’t dunk, you lose HORSE. NBA players do not need to be protected by no dunk rules.
- Open the competition up to allow one fan to participate. This guy can play. This guy can own. So why not let the fans root for him? How entertaining would it be for an Average Joe to make the NBA’s biggest stars sweat before they shoot him out?
- DITCH THE REF! HORSE is not a game you need a ref for. It’s a game you play with your friends in a drive way. If someone tries to cheat it can easily be judged by the group. A player stagnantly informing the ref of his shot is not natural or how it’s played at all.
- Get rid of unnecessary replay. I just don’t need to see a guy miss a lame attempt 4 times. HORSE is fun because it’s quick and people try all kinds of crazy novelty shots. If there is any more then 20-30 seconds between attempts, it drags and gets totally dull. If something is crazy enough to warrant replay the crowd and player reactions will create enough time to show them.
- Get Chuck, Kenny and EJ off the floor. Those guys are great in a studio but they are destroying HORSE. They totally interrupt the flow with their irrelevant banter. The past two contests were more about them taking jabs then the athletes competing. They distract the players, they distract the fans, they delay the competition to make yet another fat joke about Barkley.
- Get rid of the mics entirely. Again, athletes are not talkers. They are totally comfortable playing in front of 1,000’s but you can sense stiffness and stage fright when their words are booming out to 100,000 plus fans and on TV’s across the world. With the mics off, they’ll feel comfortable talking trash, laughing and reacting to player’s crazy shots. I don’t need to hear a stupid interview after every dunk.
- Host HORSE in the main stadium already. What’s the point of outside or a separate stadium? A lame ‘play ground’ feel? Who cares? I want fans cheering like crazy and amping the players up to go for it the same way they used to in the dunk contests.
- Scratch the Shoot Out. As Barkley pointed out, it’s hardly even fair, and it’s not HORSE.
|Maybe The TNT Guys Are Just Getting A Little Too Greedy?
Or Maybe I’m A Little Full On Corny Fat Jokes. They Have
Ruined HORSE for two straight years. STOP!
What do you know, you can have 5 or 6 players competing instead of just 3 when you remove the crap. They used an extra difficult shot to give everyone an H at the start and cut the end with a shootout to fit in boring interviews, banter and replays. It should not take 5 minutes to get through one round of HORSE. Let 6 players can go for it. They call their own shots, talk trash and stick their chests out. No filler. It’s like the NBA just doesn’t want this to work.
4. Get Some Cool Entertainment
Usher? Really? Look, I understand that teen aged girls drive the popular music market, and I’m sure some focus group may say he’s a great choice, but common sense must at some point prevail.
|The White Stripes should have been
asked to perform on the strength of
Meg’s glorious bouncing rack alone
Some artists sell lots of records but indeed eternally suck. Why are the Pussycat Dolls introducing NBA games? How is it possible I can reference the Pussycat Dolls in a sports blog at all? Is it not possible to get an artist who is popular with more then one age demographic? Maybe they don’t have a hit song in the last week, but everyone still loves them? And maybe they’ve got some stage presence?
How can someone realistically think that Usher would be a better choice then say, The White Stripes? The Red Hot Chilie Peppers? Or U2? (I even hate U2 but they aren’t Usher) Are there not 1,000 better choices then a dumb ass chick wearing a bear suit in a cage? If you’re going to have soft-core porn why not just hire Jenna Jamison to sit in a cage? Can’t the NBA on ABC license Roundball Rock from NBC just for the good of sports in general? How is it possible John Tesh can be cooler then anyone? Yet… he is.
5. Tell Players To Stop Shooting
Not a rule, but a primer. A pep talk. Before the 4’th quarter, if a play you make is not going to be spectacular, pass the ball. It took a whole half before players started going for it. We don’t want pull up jumpers. We want the Harlem Globetrotters. The rookie game was factually better then the allstar game. The Mcdonalds High School All American game was more entertaining. Why make safe plays in an all star game? Deron Williams, Wade, Lebron and Howard were the only guys to even try flashy moves.
Not that shooting a 3 is bad… if you’re Dwight Howard, that’s awesome. If it’s from 35 feet, great! If you make a few and want to get people excited by hitting 10 in a row, uber cool. Just be special. I’d rather see 1 made ally oop off the glass out of 10 attempts then 20 made jumpers from the elbow.
Have point guards post up centers, have centers run the point. If your game is defense offensive players should try to dunk on your head every time while they try to get a monster block on every attempt. Just for the sake of drama. Make it fun! Only a handful of players even got the point on Sunday.
6. Select Stars Based On Projected All Star Results
|This is what an application to play in the
All Star game should look like
Sorry Chris Kaman, you’re a really good player, but you’re not an All Star. Shaq, Vince Carter… you’re all stars and I want to watch you. Every year you can drag your sorry aging asses through the game. Why is David Lee playing? Big Daddy’s personality was engineered in a lab for this. Vince Carter, while a questionable teammate, is nearly the greatest All Star player in history. He created the big moments that made past games memorable. Why is he not making dunks off the backboard and tea-bagging French dudes every single year?
The NBA talks up it’s product and entertainment constantly yet is obsessed with rewarding players based on team performance and merit? If David Lee is great on a 19 or 60 win team, Shaq will provide about 50 more superior moments then Lee so he should be there. He’s a star among stars and David Lee is not. It’s that simple.
So let fans vote in the starters. Lee out. Shaq in. Entertainment WAY UP!
7. Fix The Dunk Contest
Fixing the CBA will do the heavy lifting here again. Nate Robinson, who has dunked 3 times all year in games, has won 3 dunk titles. Not to take it away from him, but it’s obvious this is not a contest if no one worthy competes. The fixes for HORSE also apply. The dunk contest has gone from guys in jersey’s creating excitement to people in suits pretending to be excited. Once the boring filler is removed and the best athletes in the game are in the contest we have more room for things we actually find entertaining.
|Robbed! How Can You Not Advance That Grin?|
Return to 3 rounds so it’s harder to win. The judges jobbed Dwight Howard’s underrated sticker dunk because only two could advance. A middle round ensures that only a true failure/mistake will bump you. Let contestants dunk 3 times taking the best two. I also prefer the old school rule of 2 attempts preventing embarrassments like Birdman and Nate Robinson’s 100 attempts each on dunks they can’t really complete. The fact that Nate beat Igudola after his million attempts is a failure of the system, not the players.
Lastly any foul line dunk attempts inside the foul line gets an automatic 25. It’s the most overdone dunk in history. It has to go. Does anyone truly get excited anymore when they go to the back corner? Yet another imitator to jump inside the line coming up. Every time: FAIL!
8. Fix The 3 Point Contest
This should have been the field this year.
Stephen Curry (the only one who should have been there)
Gilbert Arenas (best shot in the league! snicker!)
Make room for a star or two who wants to prove they can shoot like James or Kobe. The best shooters showcasing the league’s talent. People who don’t watch hoop watch this contest and when they see someone clang over half their shots what’s going to make them watch more? A Craig Sager interview with the guy to miss the least? Sorry, won’t work.
Hmm… on that note:
9. Fire Craig Sager
|How Can This Man Be Hired To
Do Anything Dressed Like That??
This man has got to go. Or fire his mom as head of wardrobe. It’s must end. My girlfriend is chinese and while she speaks great English she sometimes will say something like “Were you disappointing with that All Star game?”
Sager asked if Kobe was “disappointing” being hurt for the ASG. But he’s a native english speaker! The man has a little Forest Gump in him. Look NBA, ABC kicked NBC’s ass and used it’s Survivor money to outbid them for NBA rights. We know. At some point you have to realize NBC did a kick ass job of promoting hoop. Sometimes it’s good to ignore the bottom line. Highlights were better. Intros amped us up. They covered better and more games and they didn’t hire people who can’t speak English or make a fool out of themselves every night with their clothing.
Craig Sager has become a personification of all that is the NBA on ABC. A lot of non-memorable cliches dressed up in a cheap suit. Fire Craig Sager, fix the NBA.
10. Fix The Voting Process
Mark Stein writes a yearly column justifying the all-star ballot committee’s failures and justifying why deserving players don’t make it. He actually writes it before the season starts as that’s when the ballot is made. Why? Because they make the ballot before a single game is played. One year Marbury was on the ballot without playing a single game for the Knicks because he ‘might’ have been all-star worthy in February.
Question: Sound stupid? Maybe not in 1970 when it took time and money to print, distribute, collect and count votes… but that was 40 years ago. I don’t use a telegram when I have a cellphone in my pocket. Conclusion: it is stupid.
Message to NBA: save a tree! In 2010 (as in 2000 for that matter) voting should be done online and fans should be able to select any player. What is the point of paper ballots in an arena when fans are txting which 4 year old they think did the best silly dance in the half time show? The impetus for ballots has vanished like your season ticket revenues. Use technology, open the ballot to all the players, save money, improve all-star weekend. It makes my brain bleed.
|Even With A Stadium Like This, With The Largest
Crowd In History, This Was The Worst All Star
Weekend I May Have Ever Seen
This past weekend, if anything, is a textbook example of trying too hard. From the attendance record, to Jerry Vision to Sager’s suit. The NBA, and ABC, just has to realize that their main product is not in their studios but is on the court. That’s why players make millions of dollars: we want to see ‘them’. Step back. Let the game market itself. Let it be what it is without the bear suits and glam. Give us what we want. Give us basketball. Not tivo fodder.