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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The NBA's Pre- All-Star Game Bash Bombed Last Night

I rewarded my 9 year-old for a good report card by letting him stay up to 11 to watch the broadcast of the Shooting Stars, the three-point shooting contest, the skills competition and the slam-dunk competition. While my son enjoyed the broadcast generally (I actually think he was more excited that we let him stay up that late), he and I agreed that the broadcast overall was rather lame.

First, there was too much broadcasting. Kevin Harlan was out of place, as it's hard to do play-by-play of these events. There was way too much commentary -- Kenny Smith was downright obnoxious (who appointed him a guardian of the game of basketball?), Reggie Miller was bland and his sister, Cheryl, bombed. She tried to generate enthusiasm from a relatively comatose Phoenix crowd, and she was awkward in dealing with the participants. Overall grade: C.

Second, the shooting stars was an okay competition, if for no other reason than Detroit's Big Three (Katie Smith, Bill Laimbeer and Aaron Afflalo) upset defending champs San Antonio and broadcasters' favorites Phoenix to win the title. You had a combination of stars trying to make six shots from all over the floor as fast as possible. This was a good blend of the old and the new, men and women, but I'd question why anyone would include David Robinson (who played pretty close to the basket, but, who, in fairness, helped his team to a win last year) and Michael Cooper (mainly known for his defense) in a shooting competition. There was some drama, in that the Phoenix team scorched in the final round, looking like sure victors, but they couldn't make a shot from halfcourt to seal the win. Grade: A-.

Third, the three-point shooting competition was a dud. No one got particularly hot, the participants are relative unknowns, and, yes, Dequan Cook of the Heat won it. It was a bland affair, the commentary was worse, and when you had Cheryl Miller interview a monosyllabic Cook, you had the low point of the night. Grade: F.

Fourth, the guards' skills competitions had bigger names, but the demands were rather low and the requirements for the guards crowded the court and didn't let them show their stuff all that much. Plus, at least in the first round, few went all out. Yes, Derrick Rose was part of the competition, as was Tony Parker, but this event failed to generate much excitement, and the players weren't tested that much. Grade: C-.

Fifth, the crowning event, the Slam Dunk competition. First, what was Rudy Fernandez of the Trail Blazers doing in the contest? Second, Kenny Smith's dissing of Spain was downright stupid, even if Fernandez didn't belong in the contest and Pau Gasol failed to throw a good pass to Fernandez to get him going on one of his dunks. Third, J.R. Smith didn't add any flavor, which led you to both Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson, who won the event. Howard should have sat out this year, because there was no way he could have topped last year's performance (and he didn't). Robinson put on a show, both because of the color of his sneakers and his final leap over Howard, which sealed his victory. Robinson deserved to win and gets an A for his performance, but the broadcasters were over the top in their goofy comments, the crowd didn't get that into the competition and Howard disappointed. Grade: C.

Overall grade: C- (and I'm in a generous mood this morning).


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