For basketball fans across the world, All Star Saturday Night was not easy on us (just read this headline from The Times Of India, which pretty much sums it all up). The night featured a H.O.R.S.E. competition that didn’t end with the participants taking H.O.R.S.E. shots, but rather Kevin Duriant showing us all what we already knew – that he was a better 3-point shooter than Rajon Rondo. That was followed by the Shooting Stars competition, where Pau Gasol and team Los Angeles finished second to Team Texas, which was led by Dirk Nowitski of the hometown Mavericks. In the Skills Competition, the younger competitors, Brandon Jennings and Russell Westbrook, weren’t able to keep pace with Steve Nash and Deron Williams, with Nash taking his second title in the competition. Paul Pierce’s win in the 3-point contest was anti-climatic, but was followed by Pierce saying that he thought he was one of the great shooters in NBA history. Normally, I’d be shocked, but we’re used to him saying ridiculous things (read: here and here). Ending the night may have been the worst slam dunk contest of my lifetime, or at least the worst one since that “Wheel Of Fortune” debacle back in 2002. Nate Robinson ended up taking his third dunk contest title over Demar DeRozan in the final.
And as hard as All Star Saturday Night was on the fans, the blogosphere was equally as hard on our boy Shannon Brown, whose unspectacular performance left a lot to be imagined.
From the Orange County Register:
“Brown didn’t have the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders or glittery pompoms hanging around during his dunks. The Lakers guard didn’t try any outlandish tricks, use a trampoline or jump over anyone.
“There was nothing flashy or out-of-the-building spectacular about his dunks Saturday, and in the end, Brown failed to give the judges any reason to vote him the winner of 2010 All-Star Slam Dunk contest.”
From the Lakers Blog at the Los Angeles Times:
“The general public gave him a perfect lob to throw down, yet Brown bricked his chance to make himself known beyond Southern California. He scored a 78, which tied for last place with Wallace, as Robinson ultimately won for the third consecutive year.
“Rather than greeting the crowd at Dallas’ American Airlines Center with an explosive first impression, Brown missed his first dunk by bricking a 360-degree statue of liberty. He followed that up by switching from his right hand to left in mid-air for the one-handed dunk, which sparked a few golf claps and scored a 37. Brown followed that up in the second round with a one-handed slam off a lob from Kobe Bryant, a dunk that scored a 41 but was mild compared to some of the ones he’s done in an actual game.”
“I don’t know of too many people in the NBA who could exchange the ball from one hand to the next while in the air. Its not like there are players who put it between their legs, or do 360’s or anything. He followed that dunk up with a spectacular showing, where Kobe came out and threw him a lob, and he threw it down with 2 hands. Simply amazing. I have NEVER (except maybe 1-3 times in every regular season game) seen an alley oop before.”
I mean, yeah, Brown’s performance wasn’t one for the ages, but no one’s was. It was a very hard dunk contest to watch. The fans were completely dead, just waiting for a reason to get out of their seats, but no reason was presented. Wallace didn’t try, DeRozen wasn’t as creative as he was letting on, and Robinson wasn’t able to bring the theatrics we’ve seen from the ’09 and ’08 contests. Needless to say, we’ve seen better All Star Saturday Nights, and we’ve definitely seen much better dunk contests.
For the fans, Sunday’s All Star Game fared much better than Saturday’s shenanigans. Even without Bryant (Shaq did not play either, the first time neither Shaq or Kobe didn’t play in an all-star game since 1997), the Western Conference was able to put up a valiant effort, but came up two points short, mostly due to Deron Williams bonehead foul and George Karl’s inability to draw up a decent inbounds play. Pau Gasol had a nice showing in his third all star game with 13 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of play, but Sunday night’s brightest star was Dwyane Wade, as Michael Wallace of Miami Herald’s Heat Blog explains:
“He came out passing. He came out dunking. And he came out of Sunday’s All-Star game with the MVP award after finishing with 28 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals in the East’s 141-139 victory over the West.
“How big was the moment? Wade was a superstar among stars in front of the largest live audience to ever attend a basketball game. More than 108,000 fans roared in approval as Wade hoisted the MVP award. Now, Wade has an All-Star MVP to go alongside the NBA Finals MVP he won in 2006, when the Heat closed out the Dallas Mavericks in this same town to win a championship.”
Also, after the game, the Inside the NBA Crew finally released the voting for who the Player of the Decade was, and it was none other than Kobe Bryant. There were some who felt he didn’t deserve the honor, but Bryant received 54 percent of the fans’ votes while Lebron James came in a distant second with 17 percent. Although I believe Bryant is one of the most transcendent stars of any sport, I do believe that the voting should have been much closer with both Tim Duncan and Shaq a lot closer to Bryant because of what each of the three accomplished over the past decade.
Although Saturday was a dud, there wasn’t much to complain about on Sunday. With the All Star Weekend over with, teams are gearing up for the final stretch of the season. This week can make things very interesting with the trade deadline rapidly approaching this Thursday. The Mavericks already shook things up by bringing in Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendon Haywood and the Cavs are looking to bring in Amar’e Stoudamire. Be on the look out for some deals that can make a break a team’s title hopes. As far as the Lakers, they pick action back up Tuesday night against Golden State. There’s still no word on whether or not Kobe is going to play.
chris h says
I’m still shocked how poorly Shannon Brown did in the dunk contest. The “let Shannon Brown dunk” website needs to dismantled post haste and a 1984 type Minister of Truth bureaucrat needs to convince us that it never happened…
Happy that none of our All-Star participants was hurt, now Kobe, rest two more games?
Gil Meriken says
Just saw a highlight package of the All-Star game at lakersmedia.com … Note to players: Hanging on the rim does not make a dunk look more impressive.
Darius, what is your opinion of the trade for the Mavericks? On paper it would seem to make them a legit contender but we need to see on the court how it looks.
I just cant see why the Suns would give up Amare for Hickson, that trade just makes no sense.
I was bored by the dunk contest too. However, people seem to say the problem with the dunk contest is that we’ve seen it all before, whereas with the 3 point shooting contest that’s the same thing over and over again, and somehow that gets a pass.
I don’t agree, as some have said, that the dunk contest has been boring since Vince Carter, I’ve enjoyed the Dwight Howard/Nate Robinson contests, Gerald Green’s cupcake dunk, and some of the Jason Richardson dunks.
Maybe our expectations are too high, or seeing relative scrubs dunk isn’t as exciting as seeing stars dunk, or we’re too jaded after seeing video game dunks.
If Amare goe to Clev you might as well give them the Larry O’Brian trophy. Matched up with LBJ that duo will be unstopable. Season over.
I want Kobe to keep sitting out not only because he needs to rest, but because I really want to see what this Bynum/Kobe-less team is capable of. Was it a hot streak or can they consistently play this well? Can we shut down the Warriors? Can we overcome a Celtic team hungry for revenge? Before the last two blowouts, the Rose Garden game seemed to be much closer, and somewhat sloppy – every time the Blazers made a run it seemed like we were about to get blown out. Yet the guys showed character to pull out the win and in convincing fashion down the stretch. I’m curious to see if they can develop and maintain that.
As for the potential Amare trade, it would make the LeBron/Amare PnR a deadly weapon, which could prove to be the critical difference maker down the stretch where playoff games are won.
I really think it’s easier to cover up defensive insufficiencies with team play concepts than to cover offensive ones. For example, Orl left Hickson wide open time after time and he was too scared to take the shot, which led to LeBron hoisting up bad shots at the end of the clock many times. Whereas if Pau was posting up Amare they’d be scrambling to double, fake double, sag off, and rotate, which, yes, is less than ideal against a passer of Pau’s caliber, but still less hurtful than Hickson passing up wide open 15 footers. Come to think of it, Pau is really the only post-up pf they have to worry about come playoff time, and he plays most minutes at the 5 anyway. Cle would be facing the likes of Josh Smith, Rashard Lewis, and a KG who never posts anymore. So this trade would make sense imo for Cle, as long as they don’t try to isolate Amare but instead put him into the flow of the offense where he’s much more effective, which is likely what they will do.
Sorry to double post,
does anyone know (or have any links) as to how the Cavs are so high in offensive efficiency? With a better sample of games, can we analyze Shaq’s impact on the offense? Is the post presence helping?
Also, how come Shaq can’t seem to defend the PnR but Cle somehow gets away with it?
@7 – I honestly don’t think just because Cleveland may get Amare that automatically means they win the Finals. Yes Cleveland already beat us in the regular season but let’s not forget Orlando did the same thing and we all saw how that ended.
Also it seems people have short memories, did Cleveland not go nearly undefeated at home, coaste through the playoffs until Orlando? Who’s to say that won’t happen again and let’s not forget Amare isn’t exactly a DPOY candidate. He’s not about to post people up, he didn’t really work that great along side O’Neal and now he will just because LBJ is on the team?
I’ll admit they’ll be a great team but hypothetically if we see them in the Finals and they no longer have Big Z, I believe Pau will/can destroy Amare in the post & on defense and as the playoffs are less stringent on foul calls, I think that will give Artest a bump in his intensity as we saw in Semi Finals vs. Houston.
But what is big Z’s contract is bought out by PHX? And he comes back to Cle? The way that rule is set up it makes no sense to me. I hope STATS goes to Miami.
Chad Ford of ESPN reporting a potential Three-way trade possibility: Hinrich to LAL; Outlaw/Blake/Juwan Howard/Morrison to CHI; Ty Thomas/Vujacic to POR
for those who don’t have insider to espn.
New post up.
The weekend, for the most part, was pretty solid. My take on the dunk contest is to pretend it never happened. Once I saw Shannon Brown attempt the Terence Stansbury, I had a feeling he would merely do the same dunks he did in a high school dunk contest, except he made them back then. None of the contestants did particularly well, so Shannon shouldn’t get too hard a time.
I liked seeing Paul Pierce win the three-point, because, if nothing else, KG was gonna be live, and Pierce would carry on, and say something wild, and true to form, he did exactly that.
As for the game, I was pleased with that, too. I do wish more of the first-timers made a bigger impact (Randolph, Kaman, and Wallace in particular), but I was still satisfied with the game. Outside of that horrible in-bounds play at the end, it was well-played .
If you had made that trade up I´d say it gave no sense that Lakers could shuffle Vujacic and Ammo´s contracts for Hinrich.
But hey, Id love it.
The slam dunk contest was an embarrassment to the tradition. And not to forget LeBron got off easy for not participating. What simmers me down a bit was the validation I got when I heard the man himself, David Stern, say that it was okay if LeBron changed his mind…..that perhaps it’s better that way…..it removes the chance for “disappointment” amongst fans. HA! Swallow that King James. The AllStar game itself was entertaining but what steals the show this week is the trade deadline. So here’s I see it. Amara to Miami, Jamison to Cleveland, Camby to Portland and Blake and Outlaw to the Clippers.
Celtics/Lakers Thursday…..charge your cell phone Phillip.