The 2012 All-Star Saturday Night is complete and another chapter in the NBA’s history of this event is in the books. While some things left us all in awe, some other things left us looking for a shotgun and bottle of whiskey. Let’s delve into the night’s action and dish out some status updates of “winner” or “loser” to the participants.
Allan Houston – Winner
Allan Houston showed everyone that he has still “got it” during the Haier Shooting Stars competition. The retired New York Knicks guard connected on the half-court shot in both rounds for New York, which recorded the two best times of the competition, 38.7 seconds in the first round and 37.3 in the final. Houston’s form was as silky-smooth as ever and he looked genuinely pleased to receive the winner’s trophy with not only his teammates Cappie Pondexter and Landry Fields but also his son.
Reggie Miller – Loser
Although Reggie is usually a favourite of mine, it felt to me that he was trying too hard to keep his energy high during the telecast. Too many shout-outs which only got worse once fellow UCLA Bruin Kevin Love won the three-point shootout. Also seemed to be trying too hard to keep up with Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal during the broadcast which in itself is an almost impossible feat.
Kyrie Irving – Loser
24 hours is a long time in sports and after torching his way to MVP the previous night in the BBVA Rising Stars Game, Irving laid an egg during the Taco Bell Skill Challenge. Perhaps the post-MVP celebrations were too intense or perhaps it was a case of nerves, but Irving looked disinterested (as a few participants did) and posted a disappointing time of 41.2 seconds.
Tony Parker – Winner
While we’re talking about the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, San Antonio Spur Tony Parker deserves credit for shrugging off his previous two last place finishes (2003 & 2009) to capture the 2012 title. All participants in the Challenge were representing young kids, giving them a chance to win a $25,000 scholarship. Parker’s win secured the scholarship for the young girl he was representing and if not for a high-five given out by Deron Williams to his young fan, Parker appeared to be the only one that acknowledged his young partner’s existence. Poor form by the other competitors, kudos to Parker (and perhaps Williams, just).
The Slam Dunk Contest – Loser
The format of this event was the biggest loser of the night. There were no judges on-site and the event relied solely on text and Twitter voting by the general public to determine a winner. Judging by the Twitter banter during and after the event, it seemed very few people felt entertained for much longer than 60 seconds at a time. The competition had no structure, poorly executed theatre and absolutely zero drama. While Chase Budinger’s dunk over Diddy was impressive, the “story line” that took us to the dunk was awkward and quite frankly eye-violating. On-court MC Kenny Smith couldn’t even keep the microphone at Budinger’s mouth long enough for him to explain what the hell Diddy was doing there. The “Jet” certainly crash-landed on this occasion.
On some dunks innovation was at an all-time high, as Paul George cut the lights and dunked in a custom glow-in-the-dark Pacer uniform, while Jeremy Evans threw one down wearing a camera on his headband and another “double-baller” of a toss from a seated Gordon Hayward. On other occasions though, (looking at you Derrick Williams) the build-up to the dunks were hopeless enough to make the dunks themselves irrelevant. This happens when you enter the arena on the back of a Wolf-driven motorcycle.
While we saw some great athleticism, ultimately the competition wrapped up with a number of people asking things like “Is it over yet?” and “Do we have two finalists now or what?”. The coverage returned to see Cheryl Miller strangely chuckle her way through the delivery of the winner’s name.
Congratulations Jeremy Evans, you seem like a real nice kid but on this night you were the best of a poorly prepared bunch and unfortunately brought Karl Malone’s staunch “anti-All-Star Weekend” name to the Dunk Contest.
Kevin Love – Winner
Quite a few people throughout the Twitterverse over the past week have been asking why Kevin Love was even invited to the Footlocker Three Point Contest. Shooting just 36% from range this season and averaging 12 rebounds a game, Love hardly boasts the skill-set of your typical sharp-shooter. Doing just enough to advance at every turn, Love ultimately relied on his opponents (namely Kevin Durant and James Jones) cooling off to take championship. Interestingly, Love did hit 10 of 16 money balls, which will always help and genuinely looked excited to be out there. Which is more than could be said for most of the other competitors.
Overall, the night that was All-Star Saturday left a lot to be desired. The way the event was conducted robbed some players of the historical glory they deserved, while it also robbed the fans of an event that is always circled on the calendar. We congratulate Allan Houston, Cappie Pondexter, Landry Fields, Tony Parker, Kevin Love and Jeremy Evans for their respective victories, while also doing our best to erase the night from our collective memories.
On the 20th anniversary of Magic Johnson’s spirited return to the court at Orlando’s “O-rena”, one hopes the players in the All-Star Game tomorrow reach for the stars and put on a show that makes up for Saturday’s folly.
If I’m NBA Commissioner David Stern, I’m sending a private memo to the players featured in tomorrow’s All-Star Game. That memo will include a polite yet firm request to put on a show and perhaps even a smile. I’d suggest there are quite a few paying customers in Orlando who felt they did not get their money’s worth on this particular occasion.
As the biggest stars in basketball prepare themselves, we as fans all hold our collective breath in anticipation… wanting more than we got from Saturday’s event.
Bring on the All-Star Game.