Wednesday, February 18

All-Star Saturday

I was once again excited to see the NBA's All-Star Saturday festivities, which I typically find more interesting than the game itself. I was particularly intrigued by the addition this year of H-O-R-S-E...which showed at 5 pm and thus I missed it. Damn! Weirdly, TNT never bothered to replay even a second of it during the other four competitions. I only just now bothered to look up the fact that Kevin Durant won.

Of course, TNT had to make room for the ridiculous WNBA/NBA/old NBA guy thing they did, which kicked off the prime time festivities. I like the halfcourt-shooting aspect of it and would like to see some sort of competition with just NBA guys to chuck up halfcourters. However, the WNBA thing has to stop. Yes, NBA, we know you own the WNBA and keep losing money on it; don't you think it's time to give it up?

Next up was the NBA's Skillz competition, won by Derrick Rose. He was good, but I'm still not happy with that dumb ballboy getting in Mo Williams' way and costing him a spot in the finals. Kid, what could you possibly be thinking?

I think the Three-point Shootout is the best of the events. There's no subjectivity like the Slam Dunk, no randomness like the Skillz, and no WNBA players. You just make the most shots and you win. I was happy to see ex-OSU Buckeye Daequan Cook use a late rally to take the title, dethroning two-time defending champion and former Cleveland Cavalier Jason Kapono. The only thing I didn't like was the inane commentary by Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith. Those guys are normally good, but they were insufferable during this event. They kept talking about their past performances, argued about the importance of the center rack (hint: it counts the same as all the others), wrote off Cook halfway through his second round (which tied him for the lead), kept trying to label guys as "shooters" and "scorers" as if that determines their Three-point Shootout fates, and claiming that Kapono wasn't enough of a great to win three straight (like, apparently, Craig Hodges was). Shut up!

The Slam Dunk was a bit of a disappointment, mostly because of how fixed the judges were (sorry, Larry Nance) and how contrived the theatrics of it were. First of all, Rudy Fernandez and JR Smith deserved better, especially Fernandez. His behind-the-back off the backboard alley-oop and behind-the-backboard bounce from Pau Gasol should easily have netted him a spot in the finals, and Smith's two-bounce dunk was no joke either. Unfortunately, the NBA wanted Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson in the finals to follow the script so Howard could break out a 12-foot rim and a Superman phone booth and Robinson could show off his ugly green Knicks jersey (i.e. Kryptonite). Eh. Howard was given two absolute gift 50's in the first round, and Robinson advanced easily as well.

Robinson eventually won by jumping over Howard (impressive, but it's not like Howard couldn't easily have gone higher), but I think the best dunk of the night was Howard tossing it off the side of the backboard and throwing it down. That was a monster. I guess for a more satisfying resolution, I'll have to wait until next year when LeBron throws the hammer down.

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