There was once a time when everyone looked forward to All-Star weekend. As time has passed, All-Star weekend has become drastically watered down and outright boring. So long Mr. Rider and your ?East Bay Funk Dunk.? Hello to attempting a single dunk fourteen times and still winning the contest (See N. Robinson, 2006.*)
The basic premise of the All-Star weekend festivities is to showcase the talent of the NBA and to provide an exciting atmosphere for fans. The excitement still surrounds the weekend, but undeservedly so.
If you?ve watched any of the dunk contests in the past ten years, you have probably been impressed a few times; mostly by Jason Richardson, Vince Carter and Desmond Mason. You?ll also probably remember how horrible the 1997 Dunk contest was, with Kobe Bryant winning with a somewhat simplistic between-the-legs dunk that almost everyone in the NBA can do nowadays. There was no dunk contest in 1998 or 1999, so fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths, but in 2000, Carter proclaimed himself as the ?Duke of Dunk.?
In recent years, 2000 to 2005, the Dunk contest regained some of its luster. Victories by Carter, Mason, Jason Richardson (twice), Fred Jones and Josh Smith fueled the comeback. After a solid performance by Smith, which included a hurdling of Denver Nugget Kenyon Martin, fans had something to be excited about in 2006.
Smith returned to defend his crown and was challenged by Andre Iguodala, Hakim Warrick and Nate Robinson. Robinson was the fan favorite from the offset. There?s just something about a 5 foot tall man who can dunk that people love. Hakim Warrick, who was responsible for one of the nastiest dunks in NCAA Tournament history, was sure to come into Houston with some dynamite. Iguodala, with his 807-inch vertical leap, was also expected to excite the crowd.
Warrick failed to impress anyone, nor did Smith. Robinson and Iguodala were the only somewhat impressive dunkers of the night. Iguodala completed an amazing reverse dunk off of an alley-oop off of the back of the backboard, which in itself should have won the contest. Robinson attempted a between-the-legs dunk fourteen times. Needless to say, Robinson won. I became bored after the eleventh try and told myself that if Robinson won, I?d never watch another dunk contest. Too bad I was lying to myself.
Not everything was horrible at the 2006 All-Star weekend. The 3-Point contest was what it was, a 3-Point contest. The Skills competition between Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Steve Nash and Chris Paul was undeniably enjoyable. The rookie challenge was okay, even though there was too much of Luther Head v. Delonte West. The actual All-Star game was one of the more enjoyable games in recent memory, with the East pulling out a thrilling 122-120 victory after trailing by 21 at one point. Lebron and Dwayne Wade fueled the comeback, contributing 21 and 20 points, respectively. Tracy McGrady impressed with 36 points to lead all scorers in the game.
But it seems for every ?Skills Competition? and All-Star game that was of high quality, the NBA had to obliterate the quality of their program by having Dunkgate and the ?Shooting Stars? challenge. Perhaps having a current NBA star team up with a past star would have been okay, but adding a WNBA player was a stretch. Teams comprised of Shawn Marion, Dan Majerle and Kelly Miller; and Tony Parker, Steve Kerr and Kendra Welker just were not worth watching. Poor Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson were paired up with Lisa Leslie, who couldn?t shoot herself out of a plastic bag. This did not make for interesting television, in fact it was kind of odd. Not ?odd? like stopping on Fox and watching ?The O.C.?, ?odd? like noticing that when he was arrested, Maurice Clarett had an assortment of liquor, guns, cds and a lint roller.
Hopefully David Stern learned from his mistakes and will hide the Shooting Stars competition behind Shaq during All-Star weekend. If not, the NBA might fall behind the Arena Football League in total viewers.
*Note to Nate Robinson: If you want to impress people, don?t jump over another 5-foot man. If you wanted someone to dunk on, I would have given you Frederic Weis? number.
Kyle is a regular guest on the BT and JM Sunday Drive, which you can listen to at www.talkradiotoday.com. All questions and comments can be sent to Kylebwski1@aol.com