Monday, February 19, 2007

All-Star Weak-end?

The All-Star break was only fulfilling for kids and teams that have players in need of rest. Other than those two factors the energy of All-Star Vegas, from a television standpoint, was non-existent.

Players didn’t seem to care that they were in the building to play hoops. They didn’t seem to carry a winning attitude in the Sunday game that you can normally expect after the first quarter. What was it? Vegas.

Hopefully, David Stern doesn’t get the bright idea to move the game to Vegas permanently. The All-Star game is not only a reward for the players, but for the fans as well. If the All-Star product is watered down yearly because of player hangover it’s pointless. Sure, is should be something that the players can enjoy. Sure, playing in Minnesota is a lot less appealing than Vegas. But, if the players are looking for stimulation overload during the All-Star break it should be moved to late June.

Now that I’ve ranted about what could be inevitable I’ll recap the weekend that was. There are so many ways that one could explain the Saturday festivities: Fun; unpredictable; disco fever; gay?

Shaquille O’Timberlake

Shaq diesel brought sexy back when he decided to break dance for the fans on Saturday. The 7’1” center caught dance fever during a Saturday practice session. It started with Shaq and LeBron James having a dance off and ended up with Shaq on the ground doing the Worm.

It was fairly entertaining. Not sure how Pat Riley felt about his big man banging his aging knees on the ground just to get a few giggles. But, Shaq was much more a part of the All-Star festivities…we’ll get to that later.

Drills for Skills

The Skills competition is a pointless venture. Having players run an obstacle course that resembles the layout at the National Canine Agility Championships. None of the participants seemed particularly thrilled to compete.

I’m not saying that they have to be bubbling with joy to run, shoot, and pass down the length of the court. Not even. The least they could do is run, shoot, and pass effectively. Let’s make it fun. The skills competition was no better than NHL all-stars breaking plates in the goalie’s net.

Gilbert’s Fizzle/Jason’s Sizzle

I have to admit that Gilbert Arenas had me fooled. After a first round score of 23 in the Three Point Shootout I thought that he was going to run away with the competition. Not so, as he fizzled out to the tune of just 17 in the final round.

Jason Kapono (Miami Heat) was the standout in the competition. Not only did he win he one upped Agent Zero with a final round record tying 24, hitting 16 of his final 18 shots. That’s what any fan of the NBA would have expected from last night. Kapono averages an eye-popping 55 percent from three this season. He’s no pushover. Him along with the addition of Eddie Jones is what could propel Miami through the second half of the season.

Bootin’ Newton

Wayne Newton sounded terrible. Not to mention, Brian Corson (producer of the John Riggins Show on the new Triple X ESPN Radio) tells me that it was a great introduction to the big game. I can’t figure out which was worst, Newton’s vocal struggle or Toni Braxton’s voice depth. It was disturbing.

All I could think during the introductions was, “Please God let Mars Attack!”

Not Quite Jumping

The Slam Dunk competition was very unfulfilling. Players haven’t lost the creativity they’ve lost the flash. The showmanship that the slam dunk competition had is no longer a factor. The compelling names have left the competition and differ to 5’9” Nate Robinson.

Where was Josh Smith? He would have been a much better finals contestant against Gerald Green. Instead I’m stuck watching the vertically challenged attempt a routine dunk for someone 6’ or taller.

Michael Jordan threw a damper on the party as well. Instead of giving props to what it was, trying to aid the NBA in boosting a bad product, he consistently gave lower scores than anyone else on the judges table. Michael told TNT’s Cheryl Miller that scores would be tougher from him and Dr. J because of the amazing things they were able to do. What?

The dunks that guys do now are far better than anything that Jordan pulled off. The only thing that lacked was star power and energy. Athletically, dunkers like Dwight Howard should be commended for nearly touching the top of the backboard, applying a sticker, and measuring the height. That’s funny, that’s cool, that’s what the NBA dunk contest is all about.

Word to Michael: You’re old. Kobe, LeBron, and D. Wade run the league. The last thing you need is to be seen as a grumpy old man. You need to be front and center, beyond doubt, the nicest person that people can expect to see. The younger generation of the world never saw your greatness. My generation, 23 and under, barely caught the Finals MVP’s, the 30 points per game, and the six NBA titles. Your life is nearing the stage of irrelevance. If it wasn’t for parents and older brothers pushing your agenda, kids, probably wouldn’t want your shoes anymore. Lighten up, because to younger world you are looking more and more like a bitter has-been.

NBA = Not Bigoted Association

David Stern has to be proud of the repeated displays of Amaechi.

It started with Hall of Famer Charles Barkley kissing referring legend Dick Bavetta on the lips Saturday. Apparently, the two were overcome with emotion after a race for charity during the evening skills exhibitions. They embraced, following the television interviews, and kissed. It was strange, it was awkward, and now Tim Hardaway is forced to hate a legend.

Shaquille O’Neal was the second to dive head first into the world of the comfortably sexual. O’Neal got a rim rattling dunk in the first quarter of the All-Star game. Upon completion of the dunk he stared at Tracy McGrady before grabbing his head and planting a kiss on the side of his face. It wasn’t like Baveta-Barkley, it was funny.

The situation was far less noticeable when Shaq did it. It was on a huge stage, very visible, but blended in with the flow of entertainment. Baveta-Barkley broke stride. It was misplaced and ill-served.

I’m not bashing all things gay so chill out before you send me a nasty, “You’re homophobic” comment. It’s nothing like that. I just think that with everything that has happened over the past week or so an open male-on-male kiss wasn’t necessary.

Plain and simple. Shaq was funny, Baveta-Barkley made me feel funny.


Kobe Bryant is hands down the best baller in the NBA. If not evident in his 31 points, six rebounds, six assists, and six steals then you could see it in the fact that he just looks flat better than everybody he’s playing with. Kobe stood out and good for him. For the past couple of years Kobe has fallen on tough times both professionally and personally. But, just like a true survivor he bounced back. He’s making people forget that he’s human again and touching a level of invincibility. He’s getting back the endorsement deals, respect, and recognition he deserves.

David Stern should be happy with the All-Star Vegas theme. It went off without a single player getting in trouble. In a place nicknamed Sin City that is a major success. Like I said, I don’t want the All-Star game to be held in Vegas yearly. Mostly because I don’t like the watered down effect that happens as a result of late night Craps, but also because I’m concerned about Charles Barkley tip-toeing the poverty line.

It was, by all standards, a success. Hopefully, if the NBA does decide to call Vegas there All-Star home, I can get an all expense paid trip to party on the dime of Triple X ESPN Radio.


At Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first glance I thought Toni Braxton was being impersonated by one of our male impersonators. She doesn't know the lyrics to her own songs????? As a native of las vegas it was interesting to watch the chaos brought on by NBA Allstar week!


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