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How would you improve the NBA All-Star weekend?

February 14, 2013
  • Clippers' Blake Griffin dunks over a car in 2011 -- and demonstrates how over-the-top the NBA's All-Star dunk contest has become.
Clippers' Blake Griffin dunks over a car in 2011 -- and demonstrates… (Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty…)

Writers from around the Tribune Co. share what they would like to add to the NBA All-Star weekend, which runs Friday through Sunday in Houston. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times

It's simple, really. Make the All-Stars play defense like they would in a normal regular-season NBA game. And that isn't asking too much, especially if you're Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph or anyone who plays for the Lakers.

Yes, this would put coaches Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra in the uncomfortable spot of yanking players after they let the second or third guy blow past them for a pass-to-themselves-off-the-backboard dunk.  So be it. These players and coaches are all paid ridiculous sums of money, and for them to show up at the All-Star Game and make a mockery of the game that has made them all very rich is a slap in the face to the fans who buy their tickets and products.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

There has to be something added to make the actual game more meaningful. As it is, the weekend is a silly showcase that is based more on extravaganza than effort. Players rarely play, with the exception of a Dwyane Wade elbow to Kobe Bryant's face. Which was fantastic, by the way.

Homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals is too gimmicky. And money, which players already get, doesn't matter to multimillionaires. So how about having anybody from the losing team ineligible for the following year's All-Star game? Players do have pride, after all, which is why the final few minutes are finally filled with competitiveness.

Something has to change. Sponsors may have a fun weekend, but the event as currently constructed isn't about basketball.

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Take the game back to the basics with a one-on-one contest, and make it a winner-take-all prize worth the effort.

Start with four quarterfinals on All-Star Friday, worked in before, at halftime of and after the rookie game, to make that night more of an attraction.

Then play the two semifinals at the start of All-Star Saturday and the championship at the conclusion of the night, excising the tired dunk contest.

Instead of James White vs. Terrence Ross in a dunk off, you could wind up with LeBron vs. Durant or Kobe vs. Wade.

And even if the elite players bypass the event, there still are countless possibilities that certainly would be more interesting than Gerald Green dunking against Jeremy Evans.

Unlike dunking exhibitions and the props and the silliness of it all, players play one on one all the time, requiring little in the way of preparation.


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