Earlier this weekend, I heard ESPN's J.A. Adande discussing why some of the luster was apparently off the NBA All-Star festivities this go-round. Bear in mind that I generally find Adande's commentary some of the most insightful stuff ESPN offers, and I will therefore willingly listen to him talk about things that I otherwise have no interest in.
But this time, not so much. One of the things he threw out there was that because the NBA season's schedule was so out of whack, there hadn't really been enough time for booking venues for parties and other festivities during the weekend1. And so some of the big parties weren't being thrown, and therefore the weekend wasn't as All-Star-Spectacular as it had been in years past.
Now, call me crazy, but I'm reasonably sure the reason nobody was excited about the All-Star Weekend, and particularly not about the 3 Point Contest and the Slam Dunk Contest, was due to a combination of two factors. One, nobody knew when the hell All-Star weekend was going to be. (Did it just happen? I don't know. I wasn't looking.) Two, the Slam Dunk Contest2, typically the only part of the weekend that non-hardcore fans care about, was populated by something called a Chase Budinger (who has played a grand total of 24 minutes in his team's last 3 games), a Paul George (averaging 12 points per game), a Derrick Williams (18 minutes and 7 points per game) and your winner, Utah's Jeremy Evans, owner of a career mark of 3.2 points per game. That's three backups and a fourth option. It doesn't matter how many glow-in-the-dark jerseys or two-ball slams get thrown, if nobody's heard of the guys throwing them down, nobody's going to watch. This is a league that's been hanging it's image on visuals of stars like Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant, Amar'e Stoudamire, and Dwight Howard posterizing hapless D-League refugees. To promise that, and then deliver the guy on the end of Utah's bench? That, not the lack of parties that all blend together for those of us on the wrong side of the velvet rope, just might be why interest was down.
1If Nike can't figure out how to leverage its cash and resources to throw a party on only a few months' notice, Nike isn't that interested in throwing a party.
2Ironically, the 3 Point Shooting Contest, which traditionally gets as much love as Uwe Boll at the Oscars, had a couple of actual stars in it this year. I didn't know that, either.