For the first time since 1980, I missed the NBA All-Star Game. Yes, I had stuff to do, but I’ve had stuff to do other times when the ASG was played and I always found time to watch. Or I recorded it and watched later.
There are a few factors contributing to the drop-off in my personal interest this year.
I’m a Wizards fan and the team is dreck. Of course, I’ve been a Wizards/Bullets fan since the late 1970s, so that probably isn’t all that big a deal.
All-Star Saturday night festivities were a drag. The problem: a lack of enthusiasm from the participants. The shooting stars contest is sorta fun because fans get to see a retired player participate. Although, I’m more than weary of the league trying to force-feed me the WNBA. At least the participants seem to be having fun.
The “skills” competition is tedious because the players are all going half speed — if that fast. The only redeeming thing about it this year was the youngsters who had a chance to win big scholarship money if their player won. But, I couldn’t help but wonder how those kids must have felt as they watched their assigned players jog through the course. Yeah, I’m sure it was a thrill to be on the floor. I’m sure it was fun to meet the guys. But, wouldn’t it have been nice to see these guys go hard and actually try to win?
The three-point contest was okay, but nothing special or memorable happened. There was no Craig Hodges knocking down 19 shots in a row. The ties were fun, I guess. At least it threw some mystery into the proceedings.
The dunk contest was painful. I watched for one reason and one reason only — my son wanted to see how bad it was going to be. When they announced the contestants I seriously wondered if the league was trying to kill the contest completely.
The contest this year was won by someone I’d never heard of — and I’m as hardcore a basketball fan as you’ll find. If the league can’t get stars (or at least near stars) to participate, they should just cancel the dunk contest. Jeremy Evans, Chase Budinger, Paul George and Derrick Williams are probably nice people. They might even be good basketball players one day. But I don’t want to see any of them in the dunk contest.
How much more entertaining would the night have been if the contestants had been Dwight Howard, Lebron James, JaVale McGee and Blake Griffin?
And I’m SICK of the whining about these stars needing rest. Because it underscores exactly what’s wrong with All-Star weekend. It highlights why I made zero effort to watch the game. It explains why I watched Saturday night ONLY because my son wanted to watch.
It used to be that the game’s biggest stars loved All-Star weekend. Magic, Isiah, Bird, Barkley — they loved being in the All-Star game. They wanted to play. They wanted to put on a show for fans. They wanted to compete for bragging rights. It meant something to them.
For most of today’s players, it seems to be a nuisance. It’s something that prevents them from getting a mid-season rest.
I’m not sure when “rest” became so all important to elite athletes at the peak of physical condition. Think about this: when the ABA held its first dunk contest, it did so during halftime of their All-Star game. The contestants were the All-Stars themselves — guys who were playing in the game. When the contest was over, the game resumed.
And yet, Lebron James and Dwight Howard are apparently too precious and delicate to complete three dunks the night before the game. And then the league wants to wonder why folks like me are losing interest.