G.J. Vitale | Who’s on First?
Hey now, you’re an All-Star
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 11:03
Chris Paul won the NBA All-Star Game MVP on Sunday night and was the first Clipper ever to do so. That just so happens to be the only useful thing to take away from this year’s playing of the “No D” classic. So yes, yet again the NBA All-Star game was our favorite event we don’t really want to watch — I’ve never actually watched an NBA All-Star Game for more than a half.
The idea of the game is better than the actual realization of it, like so many things in life. And this year didn’t disappoint ... er, it did.
The dunk contest was probably the most enjoyable part of the weekend, but that isn’t saying much. Sorry, I don’t want to see a guy shoot 30 times from around the 3-point line like we’re playing “Around the World” in my front yard and I’m eight years old again. Also sorry that I don’t enjoy watching point guards throw passes into contraptions and run around cardboard cutouts like this is some weird basketball version of a swat drill. I’m never one to demand agreement, so if you enjoy this stuff, have a blast.
Two things I really feel like talking about related to All-Star games: 1) Should they even exist? If so, what aspects are useful? And 2) How should I feel as a fan about watching superior talent play what are essentially pickup games?
1) For almost five years now I’ve been saying the NFL should take out their All-Star game (aka “The Pro Bowl”). There’s not a guy in that game playing for anything except an injury. The game means nothing for the season, and half the good players can’t make it because it takes place the week before the Super Bowl, making it definitively the worst of the worst.
Baseball found a way to at least make these games somewhat relevant. The winner of the MLB All-Star Game gets home-field advantage for the World Series (actually quite a reward). In addition, baseball is a game where it’s pretty hard to play safe (like NFL and NHL) or soft (NBA). It’s a cut-and-dry sport with very little gray area to take a play off.
The athletes should have a reason to play these games, or everything except the skills competition portions should be taken out. Then maybe guys like LeBron will throw their name in for the Slam Dunk contest.
I turned to my friend as we were watching Terrence Ross raise the trophy as this year’s winner, and I said — and this was very South Floridian of me — “If LeBron was in this he would beat that guy, no problem.” He smartly replied, “I guess we’ll never know.”
He’s right. We won’t. And the same thing maddens me when some of the game’s best power hitters opt out of the Home Run Derby because it will ruin their swing, or tire them out, or whatever the excuse. You call yourself one of the best? Then show up and prove it.
2) The biggest problem with the All-Star games is the total lack of passion or effort. It still seems like a job to these guys, but during these games it’s a job they aren’t even trying at.
I, for one, wouldn’t mind if the All-Star games that don’t count for anything turn into near-relatives of the Harlem Globetrotters’ games. Shaq used to take his games pretty close to that back when he was playing. If the players don’t want to be there, why should I want to watch? Do they deserve to relax and have a break in the middle of the season? Sure. But do I have to watch upwards of two hours of professional athletes cherry-picking (in the NBA game) and pulling up rather than hitting a guy (NFL and NHL)? No.
I actually don’t really know anyone who still watches the Pro Bowl. Being recognized is always great and I think they should keep the accolades going so guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and Jerome Felton can feel relevant.
Just don’t count on me tuning in.
G.J. Vitale is a junior majoring in biology-psychology and English. He can be reached at Gregory.Vitale@tufts.edu.