How to make the NBA All Star Festivities Watchable…

I love watching elite players play basketball. I love having the opportunity to see the NBA’s best battle it out. This being said, I hate the All-Star game. The players don’t try (except for the last five minutes if it’s close) and I honestly don’t blame them. Why would they? There is no benefit to trying hard except MAYBE you win the All-Star MVP but then you have to stand there while David Stern awkwardly presents it to you. Not worth it. I also don’t care much for the played out festivities that lead up to the game. I get it, three point shooters hit 2-3 per rack and 3 of 5 moneyballs. Dunkers miss five in row and then settle on a windmill. Nobody tries in the point guard challenge. So this is why I have completely revamped All-Star weekend. In fact, I’m starting the new All-Star Week.All Star Week (a.k.a an NBA fan’s wet dream) revolves around two things: the All-Star game on Sunday and the 3v3 tourney that plays out during the week. Why does it revolve around the All-Star game you ask? Because now the winner gets home field advantage in the Finals, MLB style. Why does it revolve around the 3v3 tourney? Well, if you have to ask that, then honestly All Star Week is not for you. The NBA is also not for you. Please stop reading.

Still there? Good. So the two teams have Monday through Saturday to try to mesh, build some chemistry and learn how to run a few sets. Come Sunday us fans have the privilege of watching Lebron James vs. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony vs. Kobe Bryant, or Chris Paul vs. Kyrie Irving with the intensity that an actual basketball game has. Since most of the players in the game come from playoffs teams and (hypothetically) have an opportunity to win the championship, they all have incentive to play hard. I would watch this on PPV1

Throughout the week we need other things to keep the fans (and some players) preoccupied. As the East and West players practice for Sunday this is how All Star Week plays out.

Monday: Celebrity Game

I imagine this is what Wilt was like back in the day.

There’s something cool about the celebrity game. For one, it gives the fans an opportunity to see the physical comparison between regular people and actual NBA players. They look like tiny children compared to the specimens were used to seeing on the court. There’s also something endearing about watching Common sling no look passes (that were in no way benefitted by the no look) or Kevin Hart put up pedestrian “floaters” that Dwight Howard could snatch without jumping had he been on the court. I want to see someone from The Walking Dead2 air ball a free throw. I love that the highlights are just layups, between the legs dribbles, and spot up jumpers. It’s like Women’s basketball except I know the players by name.

Tuesday: First round of the 3v3 tourney

If you don’t know who Larry Sanders is yet, watch these highlights from his 10-block triple double against the T-Wolves.

Anyone who has played basketball knows that 5on5 and 3v3 are drastically different games. 3v3 has much less help defense, more emphasis on 3-pointers, and a constant changing from offense to defense that involves only a 180o turn of the body. These differentiations change the balance of which players and thus which teams have a chance to be great. For example, The Milwaukee Bucks are a fringe 8-seed in the East, but a 3v3 team of Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders would be a beast.

 

The format/rules of this tournament are as follows…

1)      Each NBA team must submit a 3-player team and the fans vote for 16 teams that make the cut.

2)      All Stars are not eligible to play (good bye Miami’s chances!)

3)      Matchups are based on random drawings from one of Walt Frazier’s old hats.

4)      The first three rounds are first to 21 points straight up or 12-minutes whatever comes first, the final round is best two out of three games each first to 15 points or 10 minutes.

5)      Games are by 1’s and 2’s.

6)      12-second shot clock to keep things going.

7)      Make it, take it

8)      Take backs on change of possession.

9)      One 30-second timeout per team.

10)   Winner of the tournament gets some exuberant amount of money to give incentive.

Since All Stars are not permitted to play (they’re too busy practicing for what just became the best All Star game in sports) the favorites for the tournament aren’t necessarily the same teams we always favor. Suddenly fans of small market, low achieving teams have a reason to watch.

Here is the (hypothetical) list of teams that fans voted in for the 2013 inaugural 3v3 All Star Tournament3 and the matchups that they pulled:

Brooklyn Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson

vs

Oklahoma City Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha
New York Raymond Felton, JR Smith, Amare Stoudemire

vs

LA Clippers DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford
Atlanta Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague

Vs

Memphis Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Tony Allen
Milwaukee Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Larry Sanders

Vs

Indiana Roy Hibbert, David West, George Hill
Toronto Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas

vs

Golden State Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut
Denver Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Kenneth Faried

vs

Houston Omer Asik, Jeremey Lin, Chandler Parsons
Charlotte Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker, Bismarck Biyombo

vs

Detroit Will Bynum, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe
Portland Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum, JJ Hickson

vs

New Orleans Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon

 

So on Tuesday all eight first round games are played. That gives TNT or NBATV a good three hours of product to air/sell commercials for.

WEDNESDAY: 3-point Competition and Dunk Competition

This still got a 10 out of 10 from every judge.

The time has come to revamp these competitions. They are played out and rarely interesting. To spice them up a bit I propose a few changes. First, the 3-point competition becomes a two-man competition where one player shoots all of the “regular” shots (4 per rack) and the other guy shoots all five money balls. Imagine the water cooler banter that would come the next day. “You see Klay Thompson hit all five money balls last night!” or “Man, Steve Novak was on fire, if only JR Smith could have hit ONE of the money balls.” There’s days worth of Clutch or Not discussion potential in this format. Second, I would make the dunk competition every four years. There’s way too many years where it’s completely unwatchable. It’s more worn out than the knees on Kristen Stewart’s jeans. I think if it was every four years winning it would suddenly become more prestigious. Maybe players start practicing more beforehand. Missing less the day of. Maybe even Lebron signs up.

THURSDAY: Second and Third round of the 3v3 tourney

For sake of space assume these eight teams advance4: Brooklyn, LA Clippers, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Toronto, Denver, Detroit, New Orleans

Second Round: Milwaukee beats Brooklyn (Sanders is a BEAST!! while Lopez reverts back to his soft self), Detroit over New Orleans (Drummond and Monroe score continuously on Anderson), Denver over Atlanta (Smith midrange jumps his team out of the game, a.k.a business as usual), Toronto over Clippers (pick and rolls show how athletic Jonas Valanciunas really is, Crawford’s poor defense is too much to overcome).

The Final Four is Milwaukee, Detroit, Denver, Toronto. All Star Week gives Milwaukee, Detroit, and Toronto fans the great basketball that they crave but rarely get to see. All Star Week makes dreams come true.

Third Round: Milwaukee over Detroit (Bynum covers one of Ellis and Jennings, the other scores at will), Denver over Toronto (the energy of Faried/Lawson overwhelms the rookie making Gay help and leaving Iguodala open for threes).

FRIDAY: Young Stars Game

One of the few things that remains unchanged. Young Stars Game is a good time as usual.

SATURDAY: 3v3 Finals, Shooting Stars Championship, Lightning

Night kicks off with the first game between Milwaukee and Denver. Faried and Sanders give off enough energy to power the entire city of Houston as the world discovers the cleanest source of power ever created. All Star Week ends mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels. Iguodala takes Jennings in the post as Denver takes the first game.

As the team’s rest, Shooting Stars Championship plays out. Same format as usual, one current player, one retired player, and one WNBA star. It’s nice to see the last generation and WNBA stars5 worked in.

Game two. Milwaukee strikes back. A red-hot Ellis scores 10 of his team’s 15. Series tied.

Kenneth Faried never takes a play off.

Before the championship game, as the team’s take their final rest, a 10 person Lightning game is played that starts with half court shots. Think of how dramatic it would be when one player’s half court shot airballs and goes into the crowd. Imagine when someone misses their shot and the next half court shot could knock them out. A solid second of air time filled with “Is it gonna hit?!………OOOOHHHHHH!!!!!!”. I love lightning. Reminds me of gym class.

Final game: Iguodala, being the calmest, smartest person in the game, calmly exploits Jennings/Ellis in the post while Lawson stretches the floor beyond the arc. Iggy locks up Ellis for the first time in the tournament. Denver wins the first 3v3 tournament. Fans fall in love with the concept. Or at least I do.

SUNDAY: All-Star Game

We watch as the best players in the world compete for home court advantage. It’s everything we as fans ever dreamed of. The NBA revolutionizes the concept of All-Star breaks, making it a yearly event that fans are excited to see.

Yeah. I can see it now….

 

1.       As an aside, those practices double as a great opportunity to scout for the next Team USA.

2.       Each week The Walking Dead is followed by a talk show called the Talking Dead. I don’t know what percentage of people stick around to watch (I’m not one of them) but I think AMC could double those numbers if each week there was a five minute mini-episode about the gang that answers smaller questions. How does the group get food? Water? Keep from going crazy because the live in purely gray prison surrounding by walking, biting corpses? These are questions that keep me awake at night. If the Talking Dead answered these questions I would watch every week. And then just think if the TD threw in a mini-episode that actually carried some weight or answered a legitimate plot question. Suddenly I HAVE to watch AMC 1.5 hours a week.

3.       Here are the “teams” that didn’t make the cut.

Miami Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem San Antonio Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw
Boston Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass Utah Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Alec Burks
Chicago Carlos Boozer, Nate Robinson, Taj Gibson LA Lakers Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest
Philly Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes Dallas Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter
Cleveland Tristan Thompson, Marreese Speights, Dion Waiters Minnesota Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko
Washington John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Nene Sacramento Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas
Orlando Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, JJ Redick Phoenix Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown

 

4.       Brooklyn (Kevin Martin gets brutalized off the dribble, Ibaka has to help too much, leaving Lopez open over and over again), LA Clippers (Bledsoe shows off one-on-one defense while Crawford shakes and bakes his way to 15 points), Atlanta (great matchup but Memphis can’t muster up enough offense with Allen on the court, only game to end by time limit), Milwaukee (Sanders dominates Hibbert with his energy and controls the board, Monta Ellis shows that he might be the most dangerous person in the tourney), Toronto (Lowry locks up Curry while Gay dominates a mismatch with Thompson), Denver (easy win, Houston doesn’t know what hit ‘em), Detroit (Bynum/Drummond pick and roll alley oop slam their way to victory), and New Orleans (Gordon and Anderson perfect from beyond the arc).

5.       Is it just me or do the WNBA stars always seem like they are secretly really competitive in this event? Like this is their chance to prove to the world that they are athletes too.

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