The NBA.com headline this morning described yesterday’s pointless, dreadfully boring NBA All-Star game as a “thriller”. It was nothing of the sort. It was an indefensible, useless dunking exhibition, with exactly 1:30 of actual action.
Marv Albert kept mentioning that the teams were establishing scoring records for an All-Star game. Well, that’s because there was some sort of gentlemen’s agreement that allowed for unmolested avenues to the hoop.
At one point in the second quarter, I began charting shots. From that moment until I quit about halfway through the third quarter, the teams attempted almost all dunks with some three point shots. At one point, 23 of the 27 shots were shots taken directly at the rim, and the vast majority of the attempts were uncontested dunks.
As a result, the final Team Win Score for the Eastern Conference was 83.0 and for the Western Conference it was 84.5. The NBA Team Win Score average per 48 minutes this season is 40.25. So that was more than doubled. Even if you account for the productive talent on display, you still don’t come anywhere near a Win Score of 83 or 84. If you had taken the average of the two rosters coming into the game, you would have predicted a Team Win Score of 55.23 for the East and 56.17 for the West. And that is not factoring in the fact that the game featured some of the NBA’s best defenders. So, for each team to exceed their maximum expectant efficiency score by over 30%, that tells you everything you need to know about the effort involved on the defensive end.
Commissioner Roger Gadell announced recently that without significant reform the NFL Pro Bowl was in danger of extinction due to lack of effort on the part of the participants. If David Stern were still alive, I am sure he would consider similar remedial action for the NBA All-Star game.
1. Bad blood between Bryant and Wade?
Amidst the complete lack of defense yesterday there was the bizarre “hard” foul by Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant. I say “bizarre” because it was so out of synch with the tone of the exhibition and it served no real purpose. If you didn’t see it, Kobe Bryant drove past Wade and appeared set to elevate for a dunk. Wade grabbed him from behind with an over the shoulder two hand hug that bloodied and apparently concussed Bryant when Wade’s hand accidentally hit Kobe’s nose. Some have cited this moment as the one moment of real passion in the game. But I don’t see it that way. I think it might have had to do more so with some bad blood between Bryant and Wade. I say this because Wade would have been just as well served had he simply contested the dunk rather than deliberately fouled Bryant. The foul was something you would expect in the fourth quarter of a play-off game, not in the middle of the second half of a ho-hum All Star game. In other words, if it wasn’t done out of spite, I can’t figure out the motivation for it.
You could also sense some bad blood in Wade’s backhanded compliment to Bryant after the game. Wade kept purposely describing Bryant as a great “scorer” rather than a great “player”. It might have seemed inadvertent, but if you listen to the audio, Wade specifically repeats the descriptive noun “scorer” where one would naturally expect to hear “player”. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this feud.
2. Can we kill the Prop Contest… err… Dunk Contest? It has gored the ox.
If you youtube the classic dunk contests from the 1980s, and then compare it to the ridiculous, Carrot Top inspired Prop Dunk contests of today, you would wonder if they were playing the same sport.
Indeed, if the contest hadn’t jumped the proverbial shark ten years ago, then I can pinpoint for you the moment in time when it did. It was the glow in the dark dunk performed by Paul George on Saturday Night. First of all, it was a pedestrian dunk… the only thing that even remotely distinguished it was the fact that the lights were off and the dunker was wearing random strips of glow in the dark duct tape. I’m not even shitting you. It was so lame. But that’s not all… the BALL WAS NOT ILLUMINATED!! You couldn’t even see the damn dunk!!
Actually, I have a prop dunk idea for next year. I would have love to see George or one of the other dunk contestants put on a ’50s style leather bomber jacket and a t-shirt over their jersey and then proceed to dunk over someone in a water tank wearing a shark suit. At least that kind of prop dunk would lend some knowingly subversive humor to the proceedings.
Or better yet, can we just please kill the awful event altogether? And, while we’re at it, we should kill the whole All-Star Saturday night. It sucks. But I want we should keep the Friday night celebrity game. That was awesomely entertaining. Watching ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb go all out against the likes of Urkel, Webster, and, I think, Justin Beiber was straight comedic. Gottlieb’s “I use P90-x” display of completely out-of-place “look at me” duderville intensity made the pathetic “Glory Days” noon ballers you see at the local YMCA or the frat team in your intramural league seem somewhat tempered and sane by comparison.