Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I Am So Sick Of Saving All Star Weekend. Fine. One More Time. But Pay Attention This Time.

Alright, NBA, listen up, because I am only going to say this once. Do you have something to write with? Because you might want to jot this down. A tape recorder? Even better. Hit the little red button and pay attention:

All-Star weekend sucks. It sucks. No one cares. You ruined it. I already tried to tell you this, but you didn't listen. Idiots, every last one of you. And you know what the worst part is? No, you don't even know, do you? Good God, why don't you sit down for a sec, NBA. This might be harder than I thought.

The NBA All-Star game is the only All-Star game in professional sports that has any chance of being remotely entertaining. The only one. And yet you still screw it up. Your marquee event is the dunk contest. All you have to do is not make it suck, and you've got a ratings bonanza. But somehow you turned what should be a once-a-year spectacle of unbelievable athleticism and power and grace and "holy shit that was awesome!" into something that drew more interest because of who was judging it and was completely overshadowed by a fat ex-player who should probably be in a Gamblers Anonymous meeting racing a 102-year-old referee who was thisclose to shattering both his hips on live television.

I ask you: how the hell do you do that?!?! Really, how? You had to try pretty hard, didn't you? I don't imagine something like that is easy.

Listen, it is too late for the dunk contest. It's over. It has lost any momentum it ever had because you made it stupid. And screw this "players don't want to get embarrassed if they lose" crap. Tracy McGrady got absolutely owned by Vince Cater and he just started for the West All-Stars and is an MVP candidate. No one seems to mind that he lost to VC in a dunk contest; his shoe deal and street cred are still in tact. The reason no one wants to do it because it is stupid. Plain and simple.

So here is what you do: let the players tape their dunks and then let them submit them. Oh you don't think that'll work? Well then why are those two videos of Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard practicing their dunks infinitely more popular than the actual dunk contest? Let's take a look, shall we?

Here's Nate Robinson, who by all accounts has done more to ruin the dunk contest than any single person outside of the Birdman:

You know what? That was some cool shit right there. Nate Robinson currently has the rep of an immature gunner who acted like a complete punk when he single-handedly instigated the nastiest brawl of the season less than a year after taking roughly 472 attempts to win the dunk contest while screwing over a completely unprecedented dunk in the process and in that video he came off as likable. Read that again: after all he did, Nate Robinson came off as likable.

Now, why is that? Well, maybe it was because he could explain what he was going to do, which might reduce the awe factor a tad, but at least the judges will know what the hell they are looking at, which would be in start contrast to anything this year's judges could claim. Plus, we get to see him pull off his best dunk in just one try, making it unspeakably more impressive than if we had just watched him screw the pooch for the umpteenth time in a row. And last but not least, he does some creative, venue-specific stuff that should be rewarded.

So, to recap: he performs some new dunks in which we have a slight idea of what to expect and he aids some local flair for good measure. Ooooooooooooor we get to see him try just one of those dunks, screw it up Lord knows how many times and then screw over a much, much more deserving competitor for the second year in a row.

Moving on...Here's Dwight Howard practicing his dunk contest repertoire:

Is there anyone in America who would prefer watching the actual dunk contest to just this clip? Anyone? Show of hands? My God, Dwight...leave the rim alone. First he kisses it and hammers one home and then he smacks his head off it.

So here is what we do. Anyone in the NBA who wants to be in can be in. Submissions have to be due the week before All-Star weekend. Edit 'em up, put some music to 'em, whatever. Then TNT will show them all at once on live TV and then once it is over - once we have seen every tape - America gets to call in and decide who wins.

This fixes every problem with the dunk contest. To wit:

  • No more rounds. This eliminates the whole "saving of dunks" things. We didn't even get to see Dwight Howard's best stuff this year. Shame.
  • No more judges. Clearly, these guys either don't know what they are talking about or don't care. This is two years in a row the best dunker has lost; at least the other AI made the finals two years ago. One year may be a fluke, but clearly rounds and judges aren't the best way to decide who the best dunker is. America sees them all and then decides. Quick and easy.
  • We don't have to watch people screw dunks up over and over. This in itself should seal the deal.
  • We get to see some really creative stuff that the NBA would otherwise never allow - like dunking on 12-foot-rims or over Playboy bunnies sitting at a poker table - like either one of those wouldn't have brought the house down.
The only downside I am seeing here is we lose a little of the spontaneity. We lose some of the "in the moment." But whenever a dunker does something we haven't seen before - D-Ho and the other AI - they aren't even rewarded for it. So what's the point, really?

Besides, what's more impressive: doing something with no expectations attached? or having to live up to the hype surrounding unreal expectations? Let's say word got out that Dwight Howard was going to kiss the rim this year. Well, that really doesn't give the dunk away, does it? How would he do that? What would it look like? Can someone even do that? If anything, it makes it a more of a must-see event.

Airing taped dunks actually ups the expectations, like how teachers grade harder on take home tests. More people would get involved, too, I think. And with more and more people entered, the "embarrassment" of losing becomes less of a stigma, too - hey, you can always blame it on the idiot fans voting online who don't know what they are talking about. You know, the same fans who vote Shaw into the starting line-up every year.

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