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2024 NBA All-Star Weekend Thoughts

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There's something wrong with the All-Star Game. 

Yeah, we've definitely had this conversation before. Expect to pick up this very discussion (again) in July when Major League Baseball has their version in the "Mid-Summer Classic" when it is the ONLY current topic to bounce around in the stratosphere of sports discourse. 

What's wrong with the All-Star Game?! 

I'm not dismissing the obvious - yes, the NBA All-Star Game is very much at an alarming point of necessary refinement and change - evaluation is needed. What we saw on Sunday night was not disappointing, but outright embarrassing. Also yes, gone are the days when the game flooded your television screen at a respectable 6:30pm on NBC, and you were wowed by the athleticism and star power of the first half of the game, and treated to what felt like the world's best players playing pickup basketball on the grandest stage. 

Now? Not so much. So yeah, we got the message. The outrage - and shock TV and hot take sports discourse - has overblown the reality of the situation. This isn't just an NBA problem. The concept of the All-Star Game is up for vital evaluation. 

More on this in a bit...

SLAM DONE CONTEST

What is in an NBA problem is an All-Star tradition unique to its brand - the Slam Dunk Contest. And if you, like me, who enjoy NBA All-Star Saturday Night and the entertainment that it produces, you witnessed an absolute catastrophe. The Slam Dunk Contest was the runs. And what has historically been the main event of a night that carries the NBA's All-Star Break, suddenly became an option to be replaced. It was so bad, it pretty much killed the vibe of Saturday night. 

After all, another truth not discussed that much is this - NBA Saturday Night > NBA Sll-Star Game. It's been this way for years. 

Was this the worst dunk contest? I'm not sure. I do know it's certainly the worst that I can remember. From the G-League participants, the non-stars, the repeated dunks, the shotty judging, and the continued yelling of Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller over topics that get lost through the experience, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest added to the narrative of a failed weekend for the NBA. 

The desensitizing of the amazing athleticism on display left me wondering - have we reached a point in viewership and basketball appreciation where in-game dunks get a bigger rise out of us than staged dunk contests? 

I think so.

There is one last bit of juice left for the Dunk Contest. So much so that the NBA has to - MUST - get it right next year. Or else, socially, we all may cancel it, and the NBA may be forced to shelf this for a while. 

The obvious fix is getting known names in the contest. That's a rule right out of pro wrestling 101 when it comes to entertainment - it's who is doing the dunk, not what the dunks are, that matters. 

However, in the case of Jaylen Brown - yeah, maybe the dunks do matter. In the age of social media and expression - showmanship and stardom are necessary. But for real, what was Brown doing?! 

I will close on this - I'm no longer impressed with dunkers jumping over people. Please stop. It's a dated gimmick. Add the jersey-wearing as well. 

OUTDATED CONCEPT?

What I will say in regards to All-Star Games is this - maybe they've run their course? 

It's a legitimate question that maybe we don't want to face. We're so resigned to fixing them - possibly they just don't work in today's climate? 

Everything has evolved in sports, some to the point where we've lost certain traditions. Could it be the All-Star Game concept is one of them? We can see any "star" we want on any night. The value of these exhibition games isn't as equitable in the current societal pressured vacuum that are dictated by "rings and legacies". 

As a Knicks diehard fan, I absolutely loved that Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle were named All-Stars. The accolade is nice and it certainly validated the season for my guys as a fan. However, I immediately wanted them to play a few minutes, and pretty much not get hurt. I want to nod, not necessarily need my guys playing useless minutes. 

Is there a way to reinvent the concept? Well, it still makes lots of money for every league that engages in it, and that's the bottom line when it comes to all of this. But structured as is, one of the major sports leagues will have to take a leap in creativity in forcing or amping up competitive juices in a space that clearly has lost it. 

MLB tried a couple of years ago by attaching Home Field Advantage, and that eventually went away. 

Who does it? And what will it be? 

GIMME MORE 

The NBA definitely tapped into something very cool with the 3-Point Challenge between Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu. I'd like more of this, please! 

Please change the skills competition back to what it was. Who did the NBA consult on these event changes? 

I'm on board with the idea that I've seen and heard from some of my favorite hoop podcasts - what about a 1-on-1 tournament (three dribbles max) on Saturday Night? Let's get the biggest stars in this tournament, and get that same inside-peek into that competition on the grandest stage. 

And finally...

PLAYING FUTURE

I wasn't a fan of the colors - the green court during the three-point contest was rough. But, the LED court is absolutely amazing. We all know it's not long before we see this as the standard NBA court. 

Again, imagine the amount of money you can make with advertising. 

Yes, it's all about that...

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