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Huq’s Pen: All-Star Weekend

I’m about to leave in an hour or so to check out some of the All-Star events.  The Rising Stars teams will be holding practice with media availability ensuing thereafter.

Perhaps I’m proving closer to 67 rather than my actual age of 27, but save for perhaps the real game itself, I’m not really looking too forward to any of this weekend’s events.  While the profit model certainly isn’t flawed, I think that if the NBA wants to reconnect with its older generation of fans–meaning anyone above 13–it needs to rethink its strategy because the layout for All-Star Weekend has grown horrifically stale.

First of all, the league just needs to put the Dunk Contest out of its misery because its become a disservice to its own iconic legacy.  Showcasing players who rival Royce White in major league minutes played, when the event once featured the titans of the game, is akin to rolling out new episodes of Seinfeld for a decade after, long after the departure of Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards.  The names make the event; the event does not have value in and of itself.  And everything that could possibly ever be done has already been done – we’ve become visually desensitized to the spectacle.  At this point, the only novelty possible is in the selection of props.  Please kill this event.

Shooting Stars: I realize time slots have to be filled requiring the necessity of some less exciting events, but why must the NBA continue to force the WNBA upon us?

Skills Challenge: This is easily the most conceptually preposterous of this weekend’s events as it underscores a glaring misunderstanding (or even failure to appreciate) of its own product by the NBA.  You have people like Kyrie Irving doing spin moves against a fullcourt press at Team USA practices and Ricky Rubio throwing bounce passes between his legs and your idea to measure/compare their skill level is to have them dribble through cones and shoot layups?  Really?  This would be like having Nas and Jay-z fire off angry text messages rather than airing their diss tracks on Hot 97.  Kill the Skills Challenge and take action even remotely resembling creativity.

What the league needs–and what would instantly be a hit–is some form of one-on-one, two-on-two, or three-on-three.  No, Kobe and Lebron will not agree to duke it out but you could find some willing participants in the lower tiers willing to go at it.  Maybe a Michael Beasley vs. Darco Milicic matchup in a squareoff to settle whose career has been a bigger bust.  Kevin Garnett vs. any European center.  Hell, if the WNBA is so insistently central to the marketing scheme, you could have each year’s reigning WNBA MVP take on Brian Scalabrine.  Same concept with two-on-two and three-on-three.  Find a way to make it happen.

The real game itself is always ‘ok’ dependent on the mix of participants.  What makes for a good All-Star game is two things: flashy point guards and high-flying wings.  So, imagine, your All-time All-Star squad would probably be something like Allen Iverson and Kyrie Irving in the backcourt, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady at the forwards, and someone ironically absurd like Antonio Davis in the middle just to keep from needing more than one ball.  What doesn’t translate well, visually, in this game is craftiness, the likes of how Glenn Robinson scored most of his NBA baskets.

An All-Star game really is as good as its point guards’ handles.  So if Tony Parker and former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson were on the floor in an All-time match, you can change the channel.  People want to see no-look passing and anklebreaking, not floaters in the lane.

To that end, it’s a shame Derrick Rose went down because a backcourt featuring the Bulls guard sharing duties with Kyrie Irving would be YouTube heaven.  We will however get our fair share, I hope, of Irving and Chris Paul dueling it out.  And Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade are still definitely crowd pleasers.

Among other notables, I’d expect Kenneth Faried to tear the rim down at some point.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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