“Caught in the middle of midterm funks, where F’s still haunt me in my sleep…School frickin’ sucks but amazing slam dunks truly brighten my week…From star-studded casts to a behind-the-back pass, this event was truly a success…The start of week eight witnessed rookies to greats in a memorable All-Star contest…”
This past weekend showcased the NBA’s best talent in one of the most entertaining All-Star events in recent memory, highlighted by the highflying West squad narrowly squeaking out a victory over their Eastern counterparts 152-149 in Sunday’s main event. NBA elites LeBron James (East) and Kevin Durant (West) led their respective teams with 36 points each, and KD was ultimately able to secure the All-Star Game MVP (second ever for a Seattle/OKC player).
The second-highest ever in All-Star Game history, the teams’ combined point total of 301 was highlighted by a plethora of treys and an enormous amount of breathtaking plays made at the rim, epitomized by King James & Co. space jamming the hell out of the ball in Monstar fashion. Chris Paul continued his hot streak with 12 assists and some nasty alley-oops to just about every West teammate, and Dwyane Wade became just the third player in All-Star Game history to record a triple-double. Kobe Bryant was finally able to break Michael Jordan’s record for most career points in All-Star Game history with minimal ball-hogging action, and, paired with a little help from Flash, he also was able to break something else: his nose. (I hope all you non-Lakers fans loved that as much as I did.)
Although most everyone doesn’t really care about the preliminary proceedings leading up to the annually anticipated clash of NBA titans in the All-Star Game, this year’s festivities actually featured some interesting highlights littered among the “why in the hell is this still around?” events that bore people to sleep. In a nutshell the events went something like this…
WHAT I LIKED:
Who knew that Minnesota’s superstar big man Kevin Love had such range? The first big man to win the event since Dirk Nowitzki, it was a very nice change of pace to see Love hold his own against the premier NBA sharpshooters. “Coming into the league, I was told not to shoot three-point shots, so to be where I am now … I think this definitely speaks to my versatility,” Love said in an Associated Press release.
NO DOUBT. The 6’10’’ Timberwolves power forward consistently displayed his clutch shooting ability by making 10 of 16 money-balls throughout the course of the night, ultimately defeating the Durantula and last year’s winner James Jones in the final round to secure his victory.
Congrats to Kevin Love for being the first player from Minnesota to ever be invited to the event and for winning his first Three-Point Shootout Contest. I hope more big-guys get invited to this event in the upcoming years, or if that doesn’t work out, there can always be a free-throw competition … Shaq vs. Andris Biedrins anybody??
In my opinion, they are the most intriguing event of the entire All-Star Weekend. Rather than have the freshman and sophomore players play each other as in years past, former players and current commentators Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal handpicked their individual squads as team Chuck and team Shaq faced off.
The All-Star Game was great, but personally my favorite play of the entire All-Star Weekend actually took place in this game, when rookie sensation Ricky Rubio straight destroyed DeMarcus Cousins with an in-between-the-big-man’s-legs dribble, followed by an alley-oop lob to human highlight reel Blake Griffin for the slam (check this play out!). The main focus however, revolved around 19-year-old Cleveland rookie Kyrie Irving, as he drained 8-8 from three-point range while finishing with 34 points and the MVP award.
The Rising Stars Challenge featured just as many highlights as the actual All-Star Game, and I thoroughly enjoyed this new-look event. Those young‘uns can absolutely ball, ladies and gentleman, and if you watched the game, you were looking enough to see the future faces of the NBA firsthand.
NBA D-League All-Star
While most normal individuals with lives usually pay no attention to NBA D-Leaguers in general, the recent emergence of Lin-sanity has caused die-hard basketball fans like myself to take notice of exceptional performances in the NBA’s quadruple -A-league.
The less-refutable All-Star Game was also a very close contest, as former Celtic first round pick and 2007 NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Gerald Green claimed the MVP with 28 points while his West squad barely squeaked out the victory over the East 135-132. Following Green’s All-Star performance, the former can’t-miss high school prospect, who skipped college for the pros, is now set to be signed by the New Jersey Nets. (Probably not the next Jeremy Lin, but definitely a feel-good story and a sleeper to keep your eyes on, Fantasy Fanatics…)
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
Slam Dunk Contest
The days of mind-blowing OG dunks (peep Vince Carter, J-Rich and Spud Webb) are sadly now a thing of the past, as current participants try their very hardest to pull something magical out of their bag of tricks that has never been seen; but this has proved to be nearly impossible. Take for instance this year’s lame attempts at originality.
• As Indiana’s Paul George attempted to “wow” the crowd with a neon-infused dunk with the lights off, I nearly turned off the television.
• Minnesota’s rookie Derrick Williams did a horrid Blake Griffin impression while dunking over a motorcycle, but to be honest I wasn’t even impressed with Griffin’s dunk in the first place (check out street baller Guy Dupuy on Youtube actually jumping over a car).
• Houston’s Chase Budinger did in fact prove that people of all color can JUMP, by pulling off an enormous dunk over Diddy’s head and later a very acrobatic windmill, but all was forgotten when he attempted to tribute former champ Cedric Ceballos’s blindfold slam.
• Utah’s Jeremy “The Human Pogo-Stick” Evans did not live up to his name with his first dunk of the night as he attempted to display a slam “through the eyes of the dunker” by attaching a camera to his head. An interesting concept, but after watching that I wanted to gouge my own eyes out.
Besides Evans’s weak no-authority opening, he tore up the next two rounds with a two-ball finishing dunk over teammate Gordon Hayward and followed that up with a sick Karl Malone tribute dunk in which he jumped over comedian Kevin Hart impersonating the Mailman while finishing the one-handed slam in style. His last second replacement of the injured Iman Shumpert proved to be an opportunity of a lifetime for the young forward, as he was able to barely squeak out a win over Chase “Homegrown Buds” Budinger to claim the Slam Dunk championship as his own.
Celebrity All-Star game
Sorry ladies, but after last year’s horrendous Bieber frenzy, I really had no expectations for the celebrity All-Star Game; and let me tell all of you who didn’t watch it (which was everyone on planet Earth) that it was absolutely horrid. I mean … who wants to watch these squares play basketball anyway? They are absolute garbage. Vinny from frickin’ “Jersey Shore” was on a team!
The United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held it down with 17 points and eight rebounds, but there really was no point of watching this. You can go see a better game for free at our very own Rec Cen on a Friday night.
In my mind the All-Star Weekend was all in all a very entertaining event, but while some events shined, others faltered. The new-look Rising Stars Challenge and Three-Point Shootout Contest kept my full attention, and surprisingly the D-League All-Star Game was entertaining and useful for scouting potential. But, just as the NBA ultimately decided to mix up the preceding frosh-soph game, I believe they should take the same approach with the seemingly decaying attractions of the Dunk Contest and Celebrity Game. While yes, the entertainment value may have previously been high, they are now fully encompassed into a new-age combination of sports and reality television, and let me be the first to say that these events need to GO because they suck. The Dunk Contest is getting more boring by the second and I honestly would rather watch afro dude’s “The Joy of Painting” reruns than the Celebrity All-Star Game … no joke.
Now that All-Star Weekend has come to a close, true basketball fans are now turning their attention to the trade deadline. I wish all your teams the best of luck in avoiding boneheaded moves (I know I’m gearing up for the worst) and hope that you enjoyed this past weekend as much as I did. Holla!
(Joseph Tapiro is praying every night that the New York Knicks declare Lin the face of their franchise and decide to trade the now-expendable Carmelo, along with Amar’e and a first-round pick, to the Warriors for Andris Biedrins and our entire front-office.)