Elmhurst Pub Roundtable

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Decisions...

I went back and forth as to where my next topic would be, mainly because there are always a few things in the news that strike your interest. Given that no one seems to have an opinion on a ything else I've thrown out there, I'll go with something that I at least find interesting. Course since I'm one of the 15 remaining NBA fans, this probably will get slightly less interest than pictures of a naked Bea Arthur. But, you're all stuck.

This weekend, the NBA will hold its All-Star game in Houston. Sunday's game will be the cap off to a weekend of events that include All-Star Saturday, consisting of the "Young Stars" Dunking Contest, 3-point shootout, skills challenge, and something involving the WNBA and an obese Magic Johnson. Thanks to TiVo, I'll get to watch all of this when I return from my weekend away. But, at the same time, I'm not sure I want to. Rob will think I'm channeling Bill Simmons here, but the fact is the events on NBA weekend have gone from fantastic and the highlight to the weekend to pathetic and needing to go away. It's really a shame. Growing up, I remember this being a great thing. Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Dale Ellis, Jordan, Dr. J, all competed in these various events. It was a matter or pride, of entertaining fans, and of proving you were the best. That has entirely gone away. It's gone from being there to entertain fans to making sure you don't get hurt. Let's look at the three point contest. This does contain some of the game's best shooters - Ray Allen, Richardson, Nowitzki, Terry, Raja Bell (perennial dark horse), and Chauncey Billups. I'd make this a field of 8 and add two players in the actual game to the list - Rip Hamilton (leading the league in 3pt%) and either Pierce or Nash. 8-4-2-winner. It's a simple formula and there really isn't a reason that it couldn't be done. Honestly, that's my only complaint about this event though. It's stayed with some of the best shooters in the game and it's not the event's fault that the quality of shooting in the NBA is borderline abysmal at this point.

Next event, the Rook-Soph game. No problems with this one whatsoever. Fantastic idea, keeps the younger players in the NBA involved and gets them exposure on a major stage. Putting that much talent on an NBA floor at once is a great idea and whoever thought of this should be commended for it. And what about the skills challenge? Getting the best point guards in the NBA together is a great idea for something like this. Let's see their skills on display. My problem? How can they only find four guards that have the requisite skills to do this. I'd even make it a little more fun. Add a teammate into it and make them complete an alley-oop pass or give them bonus points for the more creative a pass they use. What about putting a dummy in the middle of the lane and making them drive around them for a hoop. Something like that. I like the basica set of skills they use, but I'd also make this event 8 guys with accuracy a more important part of the issue. Who do I add to the field (Nash, James, Paul, Wade)? How about Bryant (course you can't pass to yourself), Jason Kidd, Tony Parker, Mike Bibby, and, this year, Sam Cassell. NBA.com has the official rules for this contest.

Then we come to two events that need to be changed entirely. The "Shooting Stars" challenge and the Dunk Contest. Start with the Shooting Stars, where they team up an NBA, WNBA, and legend in a shooting contest. At least, this year, they've cut it down to 4 teams. I agree with Simmons here. You can't keep shoving the WNBA down our throats. How many guys have actually watched more than 5 minutes of a WNBA game? I refuse to. It's not quality basketball. Women's college basketball is more entertaining. But this is just a bad product that they can't even bring fans out to watch. Why keep this up? What's worse, the legends they select are just ugly to watch. Magic needs to lose 50 pounds. I don't think of Clyde Drexler as a Rocket, but as a Blazer. Steve Kerr will always be a Bull or a Cav, not a Spur since he was there for like a year. Dan Majerle, I'll cut some slack. It's not his fault. The fact is, no one cares about this event, no one likes this event. Give us more of the real all-star type events. No one even can move effectively in this event. The All-Stars don't want to get hurt, the WNBA players are women, and the legends are old. Great idea on this one. Put Marion, Bryant, T-Mac, and Parker here. I'd much rather see their skills go to waste than be exploited. At least make the WNBA players go topless or something.

Which brings us to the Dunk Contest. Seriously, let's just make this stop. In the contest this year: Nate Robinson, Hakim Warrick, Josh Smith, and Andre Iguodala. Combined, these guys don't average as many PPG as Bryant. Robinson is 5'9" and he's no Spud Webb. Smith was not that exciting last year. Warrick doesn't get off the bench enough in Memphis to have any discernable skill (but remember, he deserved to be drafted ahead of Gomes). Iguodala is a great defensive player and I have no idea whether or not he's athletic enough for an event like this. Course now that I said that, he'll probably win. Fact is, when you have the most exciting players in the NBA not participating, this event is useless. Look at it this way: Warrick wasn't good enough to make the rookie-soph game. How can he be considered a rising star, as the dunk contest title suggests? You either have to make participation a mandatory part of all-star weekend or make it worth the while of those you invite. $16K ain't gonna do it. Let's say you make it mandatory for all-stars to participate in these events, even guarantee that they wouldn't do the same event twice in a three year span. I'd break it down this way:

3 point: Arenas, Pierce, Hamilton, Allen, Nowitzki, T-Mac, 2 non-all stars (1 per conference) Raja Bell and Mike James this year to reward the better shooters. Give the conference winner even more. Otherwise, go with the idea below and use the rooks/sophs (Deron Williams and Nate Robinson).

Dunk: Bryant, Brand, Marion, James, Carter then use rookie - soph roster for 3 (Iguodola, Head, Villanueva). Allows for more conference battles again.

Skills: Nash, Wade, AI, Billups, Parker, then fill as necessary to even conferences with rookie-soph roster (Paul, Ford, and Devin Harris)

It might work. That, or totally revamp the whole thing. I won't get in to details on that. At least this involves the younger players more and gets that exposure while also making it a conference battle of sorts. Let them see who has the better conference. NHL, NFL, and even MLB do that in regard to the use of total points. Why not here? It at least makes for some better watching television. To a degree...

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