All-Star festivities are both a no-brainer because of obvious “funness,” but also because of how little cerebral capacity seems committed to their preparation. I’m a big fan of the all-star shenanigans, and they remain dear to me despite their misled changes – at the end of the day it’s nice to celebrate a field’s best and sometimes impressive, sometimes hilarious to watch miscellaneous contests. Nevertheless, since the dawn of these hierarchical jubilations there's always been accompanying degrees of discontent ranging from the MLB’s game being boring, to the heat received by the NHL for its drunken fantasy draft, and to the grand litany of NBA complaints that Papa T is about to break down for you.
Until they messed up contest rules, letting Blake do a dunk over a Kia, and letting Harrison Barnes sell his soul on-air to 2k, All-Star Weekend was pretty cool. Not having been born into the “Four Corners” offense or raised atop Tim Duncan’s elbow jumper, my hoops appreciation originated as a hops-less fellow wowed by Jason Richardson’s dunk contest demolitions and rude, NBA Street Vol. 2, off-the-heezy on a gargoyled Carlos Boozer – anecdotal proof assuring you of all-star merrymaking’s merits. Now, some scrapped ideas that might be worth tabling… HBO’s FO Showdown: Front office members from the East and the West compete in their own scrimmage. Mikhail Prokhorov using his infamous handles on Mark Cuban is appealing, but I worry that the execs mightn’t dig this idea enough to participate. Burger King’s “Halve it Your Way” Half-Court Challenge: The league’s greatest heavers, from Matt Barnes to Stephen Curry, compete in a half-court shooting match. And if Gareth Bale can knock down 3/5 I’m sure the Association can do better.
15 Get it Out of Toronto
14 One-on-One: Drake vs. Meek Mill
Fine, so we keep it in Toronto because of the logistical difficulties involved in moving it, because we want to expand the NBA's audience, and because we trust Canadians to respect basketball’s sanctity. Then, let's take advantage of Toronto's ambassador and Canada's Slime Minister – the ever-visible Drake. Drake has been known to hoop in the past, as has his arch-nemesis Meek Mill (both appear in the 2k videogames). Why not let the two settle their differences on the hardwood in the first-ever OVO 1v1?
13 Presidential Jubilee
12 Save Klay's Confidence: Remove the All-Star, All-Style Fashion Show
11 DDR for Handles: Hezzy-Hezzy-Revolution
10 Less "Rising Stars," More Ageism
9 Let the Fans Decide the Starters, Period.
Fan voting determines All-Star game starters, bringing oodles of controversy across all American sports because pundits don't trust our hoi polloi’s decision-making. In the NBA, a rookie Yao Ming was voted in over prime Shaq thanks to the Chinese vote in 2003 and then in 2011 despite Yao only playing five games. In the NHL, a relative nobody, John Scott, was voted in as team captain. And in the MLB, clever fans almost succeeded in voting in the entire Kansas City Royals. While all of these decisions seem to tarnish our celebration’s sanctity, maybe weird fan decision-making is the actual sanctity of All-Star Weekend.
8 The Tournament of Bad Free-Throw Shooters
7 Half-Court, Full-Throttle: 3v3
6 Ask LeBron and Westbrook to Dunk
5 More Money & Public Apologies
All-Star Weekend has historically fielded two principal complaints from fans: too much carelessness during the game, and too little passion for the other contests. The Association has been slowly enacting my (and Bill Simmons’) passion solution, consistently bumping up the money rewarded to charities or contest winners. But, the carelessness conundrum is a little more complicated. I suggest that, in order to participate in the all-star game, any player who has more turnovers than assists or rebounds ought to get on the microphone post-game and publicly apologize to the arena and TV viewers for their carelessness.
4 Big Man Got Game
[Turns out this idea is actually being implemented in some form for the 2016 All-Star Weekend so I suppose I ought to change my passwords or thank the NBA for taking an interest in my article drafts.] The Skills Contest is always a fun time, an obstacle-course chock-full of basketball goodness and zooming, skilled guards. But where’s the love for big guys who worked on their guard skills for no apparent reason? It would be a great way to celebrate skilled bigs and showcase the association’s talent if there was a similar skills contest including guys over 6’8.
3 The Mecca of Hoop: One-on-One
One-on-one is the cement that paves playgrounds worldwide. It’s probably the square-root of hoops and closer to the hearts of ballers than their hands during the National Anthem. Nothing has given Gregg Popovich more nightmares, and the instinct towards it has crippled youth teams across America – but it's also the foundation on which an infinitum of bragging rights and championships have been built on.
Probably the most popular basketball competition outside of scrimmages, H.O.R.S.E., unlike other playground classics like around-the-world and knock-out, lends itself excellently to the virtues of All-Star Weekend. It is a creativity- and skills-based game that celebrates a side of basketball clutchness and skill that we don't often get to enjoy. There is some historical precedent when it comes to H.O.R.S.E. in the NBA. During the 1977-78 season, a tournament between Association ballers was pre-recorded and subsequently aired throughout the season, with Pistol Pete's injury-replacement Rick Barry eventually falling to the notorious trickster Paul Westphal.
1 Just Go Ahead and Fix the Dunk/3PT Contest Rules
Enough is enough. The 3pt contest change is a travesty, but the 2014 dunk contest was such a profound disaster that my inner trauma center insists on preemptive action against its repetition. The Three-Point Contest is an easy fix. Its format remained constant since its inception: Five racks, with five balls each (one money ball, worth 2pts), giving a maximum score of 30. Then 2014 happened and the one rack became all money balls, making a max score 34. Now, Steph Curry has an asterisked record of 27 because his 27/34 is a lower percentage than Jason Kapono's 25/30.
The dunk contest has always been tinkered with, from a wheel determining dunks, to prop inclusion and Blake Griffin's Kia jump, to the 2014 debacle where they rushed the entire ordeal with a scrambled team dunker format. Just bring it back to something simple like six dunkers, two dunks each per round with a three-minute time-limit per dunks. And return the 3pt contest format to normal. Although I appreciate the energy for revitalization, let’s get classic and bring back the nice stuff: inter-generational competition against history.
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