All-Star Weekend 2014: Hoops Was A Distraction From The Real Entertainment

Saturday night

8:15 pm – The night tipped off with a preview of Charles Barkley's White House discussion with President Obama. Adam Silver should count his lucky stars. If David Stern had left office this time in 2017, the grassroots campaign for Obama to crack one of professional sports’ final glass ceilings by being named the first African-American commissioner would have reached “Yes We Can” via 2008 levels.

On second thought, we haven’t heard much from Silver since he became the hoops Heisenberg peddling the best basketball product in the world. It would be nice if Charles Barkley or Kenny Smith would stage a similar sitdown with the guy actually running their league during All-Star Weekend. Silver has to be feeling some type of way about Obama stealing the thunder during what should be his first opportunity to assert his control.

Next season, he should up in New York next year with a goatee and a porkpie hat to give him much needed gravitas.

8:20 – Barkley asks the best question of the night so far—including the Obama interview excerpt. He asks if the Pacers have practiced with Andrew Bynum yet. George sugarcoats it, then admits Bynum has only practiced once. However, he didn’t crack a smile. He says it with the same look on his face I’d make if I just found out the gum I was chewing was recycled off the bottom of a park bench.

8:40 – Chris Paul doin his Cliff Paul impersonation tonight. Reminds me of the dugout disguise Bobby Valentine used to return after he was ejected about 16 years ago.

Paul is really getting into this act. I wonder if Cliff feels the same way about floppers as he does about insurance fraud.

The 20 footer from atop the key and the dribbling through cones both simulate actual basketball scenarios, but the passing portion of the NBA Skills Challenge doesn’t correlate to the NBA. If it’s going to be included in the competition, why not make it a situation that relates to actual basketball gameplay. Completing a pass to wingman being guarded by Paul George would make a little more sense.  Under what circumstances is a teammate ever trapped inside of a fishing net or behind a barrier where he can only be fed the ball through a hole with a circumference barely larger than the width of a basketball?

10:15 During the 3-Point Shooting Stars Competition, Nelly appears to have hitched his wagon to fellow St. Louis native Bradley Beal. Every year, it seems like an artist adopts his own baller.

Terrence Ross brought out Big Brother Drake, the most memed rapper alive, but he missed an opportunity to make it truly dramatic, bring out Sanaa Lathan and introduce a little community theatre into an otherwise drab conclusion to the night’s festivities.

Ben McLemore brought a rapper, but Shaq hasn’t released an album in 16 years. He probably would have cruised to victory over John Wall with an assist from a reigning champion that’s also his namesake.

Dr. J can’t stop emphasizing how sick Paul George’s dunk was. The pun isn’t lost on me. However, he probably smacked himself upside the head on his way back to the hotel when he realized what he should have added to that. The French call that late wit L'esprit de l'escalier.

Wall won with a dunk he saw in a Flight Brothers YouTube video and Ben McLemore may have accidentally had the dunk of the night after nearly losing control of a one handed tomahawk jam off the bounce.

However, the greatest dunk we didn’t see was the Twister dunk Ben McLemore teased us with.

Oddly enough, there wasn’t even an individual slam dunk champion tonight, there was a Dunker of the Night voted on by fans. John Wall won, but he only performed one showcase dunk. Personally, I’m disappointed nobody thought to bring out Adam Silver throwing an oop to a dunker leaping over David Stern.

Anyways, here’s how the final voting tally worked out.

However, nothing made less sense than the freestyle segment of the Slam Dunk Contest. Why would anyone want to see cats running a three-man weave out there on the court?

If the NBA is going to get so creative with the format and use this elimination method, why not give slam dunk H-O-R-S-E a test in the first round of the slam dunk contest? It takes care of two problems, the lack of H-O-R-S-E in All-Star weekend and takes the scoring out of the judges hands just a little bit.  While we’re at it, why not force the East and Western Conference NBA All-Stars and three-point shootout participants to compete in a game of Knockout?

As for the judges, why do we keep using the same legends? What we should do is fly in victims of the most vicious posterizations of the past year like Brandon Knight, Jason Terry and Kenneth Faried, put them behind a two-way mirror and have an NOPD detective ask each of the dunkers in a police lineup to complete a dunk. After each round, the victims grade the slams.


1. Charles Barkley was touting Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative, but given all the weight he supposedly lost last year, shouldn’t he have been hawking Michelle’s Let’s Move! Obesity prevention program instead?

2. After he interviewed President Obama in the White House, there’s only one more height for Barkley to eclipse. Being knighted by the Queen and becoming Sir Charles Barkley just to miff Kenny, Ernie and Shaq.

3. The Atlanta Hawks organ player made a bigger splash than Paul Milsapp. He gained more fans than the Hawks have filling up Philips every night.

4. This was Kyrie’s pitch for LeBron to return to Cleveland. Irving could be a double digit assist man if he was playing with more capable teammates.

5. That was James Harden’s best defensive performance of the season.

6. In case you didn’t notice, Carmelo Anthony broke the single game record for three-pointers made. LeBron’s gotten flack for never competing in the slam dunk competition and rightfully so, but why’s Melo been missing from the Three-Point Shootout for a decade? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Melo compete on a Saturday night.

7. I’m surprised Frank Vogel didn’t pull some Frank Underwood-type deviousness by playing LeBron and Wade for 45 minutes.

8. If you skipped the Walking Dead to watch the All-Star Game, you basically traded walkers wandering aimlessly for an hour with All-Stars meandering on defense for all but the final five minutes of game time.

9. If you ever saw Dodgeball: The Movie, I think we can agree the Eastern Conference’s uniforms bear a striking resemblance to the diabolical Team Globo-Gym.

10. I’m excited for the 2015 All-Star Game. Especially, if ‘Melo is in New York wearing some other franchise’s uniform. A-Rod won’t hear as many boos from a New York crowd in 2015 as Melo will under those circumstances.