|Posted on February 16, 2015 at 11:10 PM|
For possibly the first time ever, the Three-Point Shootout was hyped up more than the Dunk Contest. In Sunday’s All-Star Game, threes were being thrown up left and right, whereas usually players start going in for dunks when the game descends into chaos. With teams attempting more threes year after year, three-point shooting is becoming increasingly popular, cool, and essential to success in the NBA. This year’s All-Star Weekend helped mark this shift in basketball culture. Even though Zach LaVine is probably still in the air, and Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller are probably still talking, let’s take a look at my notes from an exciting All-Star Saturday Night:
8:12 - Kenny Smith says, “we watch him [Dominique Wilkins] miss,” exactly as Wilkins makes a half-court shot. This was not the last time I would wonder whether or not Kenny was watching the same thing I was.
8:18 - The only thing more boring than Reggie Miller fake-analyzing an actual basketball game is Reggie Miller fake-analyzing half-court shots. I hate the Shooting Stars so much. Give me one good reason why I’m not watching a one-on-one tournament between LeBron, Durant, Harden, and Steph right now?
8:20 - Elena Delle Donne waits for Scottie Pippen to make his shot, then decides she wants to get a 20-foot running start for her half court shot, so she takes three seconds to back all the way up to the three-point line and another two seconds to get back to half court to shoot the ball (her team ended up losing by four seconds).
8:21 - Reggie tries to make a progressive comment by saying, “In past years, it’s always been the WNBA player who makes the half-court shot.” In fact, over the past five years, the WNBA player has made the shot in 5 out of 30 rounds. So, by Reggie Miller’s definition of “always,” Deandre Jordan always makes free throws, the New York Knicks always win basketball games, and I always do my homework when the teacher announces the day before that he/she isn’t collecting it.
8:31 - Dominique Wilkins has won more Shooting Stars competitions than Slam Dunk competitions, and I am not okay with that.
8:42 - Kevin Harlan calls Dennis Schröder a “sensation.” Basically the only three things I know about him are that he has a cool patch of orange hair, his name is pronounced shroo-der (still haven’t figured that one out), and that he has a cool patch of orange hair.
8:51 - I LOVE the new format for the Skills Challenge where the players shoot on the same basket. Patrick Beverley took advantage by knocking Isaiah Thomas’ shot out of mid-air with his ball. Instead of simply having players shoot at the same basket, I would have them go straight into Knockout at the end of every round. Actually, I would just make Knockout an All-Star Saturday event. It couldn’t possibly be more boring than the Shooting Stars.
8:54 - My sister says, “Anthony Davis thinks he’s Morpheus,” which is the best explanation I’ve heard so far for his potentially record-breaking season.
On the scale of bad All-Star Saturday Night outfits, his scarf/sunglasses combo ranks worse than James Harden’s… thing from last year, but not nearly as bad as Carmelo Anthony’s outfit from 2013 or Vinny’s red suit from My Cousin Vinny.
9:06 - As Patrick Beverley, the least skilled player in the Skills Challenge, wins the Skills Challenge, Reggie repeats for the fifth time, “You’re never out of it.” Well, unless you’re one of the seven players who is currently out of it.
9:34 - Reggie analyzes the “strategy” of the Three-Point Shootout. “I want to put the money balls in that short corner, get off to a fast start, get a flow, get a high number.” No shit.
9:35 - Kenny shouts “he’s on a roll,” directly after Wesley Matthews misses a shot, and Matthews goes on to miss three out of his next five. My dad comments, “There’s absolutely no connection between what they’re saying and what’s actually happening!”
9:38 - J.J. Reddick ruins a solid round by stepping on the line for four of his shots. “They should count,” Kenny says. No… no they shouldn’t.
9:38 - James Harden gets to shoot over and over without having to pass or play defense in between. Sound familiar? I kid, I kid. As much as I hate to admit it, Harden deserves to win the MVP this year for a Houston Rockets team that has the fourth best record in NBA. Take Harden off that team and they’re a double-digit seed in a superior Western Conference.
9:39 - Harden makes 9 out of his first 16 shots, until Kenny and Reggie engage in the following shouting match over the loudspeaker, during which he makes 1 out of 9:
Kenny: “All he has to do is get on a roll right now.”
Reggie: “What makes it interesting too, is us talking about it. He hears exactly what’s going on right now.”
Kenny: “That’s all right. Shooters can block it out. James can’t hear us.”
Reggie: “Oh he can hear us!”
Kenny: “He can block it out.”
Reggie: “Oh trust me, he can hear us!”
Kenny: “He can block it out!”
9:41 - Kenny comments about Kyrie Irving, “When the lights are on, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA.” I don’t know about you, but I usually shoot in the dark.
9:53 - Poor showing by Kyle Korver, but we give him a pass because he’s in the process of founding the 50-50-90 club.
10:01 - Stephen Curry makes 13 shots in a row. Now that he's won a Three-Point Shootout, we can all die in peace.
10:09 - After having a half-hour off the air to come up with two intelligible sentences, Shaquille O’Neal mumbles, doing his best Vin Diesel impression, “Watching these guys shoot is like watching a video game,” which Kenny has been repeating on end for the last 30 minutes.
10:19 - The freestyle round format sucked so much that it's gone after one year. If you don’t remember how boring that was, refresh your memory:
10:20 - Mason Plumlee gets some score that I can’t see because the judges are holding up their scores on tablets that are impossible to read and that Clyde Frazier can’t figure out how to use.
10:25 - Victor Oladipo was not on key during that Frank Sinatra song… just saying.
10:27 - Really impressive reverse 360 by Oladipo that Kenny refuses to admit was anything less than a 540. His explanation for why it was a 540 consisted of him shouting, “Turn, turn, turn, turn!” as the replay was shown. Oladipo jumped with his back to the basket and landed with his back to the basket. Kenny, stop trying to make “540” happen. It's not going to happen.
10:29 - I appreciate any and all references to Space Jam.
10:30 - I’ve spent too much time and effort over the past two days trying to figure out whether LaVine’s first between-the-legs dunk or his second behind-the-back dunk was better (yes, a NERF hoop was prominently involved in that effort), and I still don’t have an answer. Both were twists on dunks that we’ve seen before, but both consisted of him hanging in the air for an absurd amount of time before he even started to think about dunking the ball. What I like about the reverse between-the-legs was the scissor kick that you can see on the first replay of this video.
10:31 - How could Dr. J just sit still when he saw that dunk? I jumped off my couch when I saw it! Bernard King and Chris Mullin high fived each other! Nate Archibald looks like he just saved 15 percent or more on car insurance!
10:37 - With a combined 41 letters of names on the court, Thanasis Antetokounmpo helps Giannis Antetokounmpo complete his only dunk of the night. The Greek Freak certainly disappointed, but wasn’t bad enough to crack the top five worst dunk contest performances of all-time:
5 (tie) Tim Perry - used the vast majority of his freestyle round dribbling around the court aimlessly and unenthusiastically (In 90 seconds, he made two dunks and dribbled the ball 51 times! In a dunk contest!)
5 (tie) Antonio Davis - bounced the ball into the crowd for no apparent reason and then bailed on his freestyle round with 40 seconds remaining
4) Darrell Armstrong - missed four dunks in a row before finally giving up and making a layup
3) Chris Andersen - if you're ever having a really bad day, just watch this video
2) Tony Dumas - only contestant in Dunk Contest history to not make a single dunk
1) Larry Hughes – missed his first six attempts, and then the camera didn’t even catch his only dunk
10:38 - Dr. J takes 10 seconds to find the number he wants out of five cards, and it’s a… 6? Giannis made the dunk! Based on overwhelming evidence from the past ten minutes, my dad and I conclude that Dr. J is on drugs.
10:40 - Plumlee jumps over his brother and dunks it… whatever... check out this Chinese dunker lining up five guys to jump over and then not even clearing the first guy. This and the Chris Andersen video are good to have bookmarked for when you're having a bad day.
10:43 - LaVine gets another well-deserved 50. Kenny says, “He’s got them on his feet again! He’s got them on his feet again! He’s got you on his feet again! Put your hands in the air! Put your hands in the air!” Then the replay shows. “He’s not even worried about it! He’s not even worried! Look what I’m saying, he still could go higher. He still could’ve went higher! He’s still going up! He’s still going up! He’s still going up!” I don’t think Kenny Smith can say anything without repeating it. I don’t think Kenny Smith can say anything without repeating it! I don’t think Kenny Smith can say anything without repeating it!
10:52 - After Oladipo misses three dunks in a row, Demarcus Cousins pays no attention as his kid repeatedly tries to balance a towel on his head. If there was an NBA player who totally neglected his son while he tried to balance an object on his head, it would be Boogie Cousins, wouldn’t it?
10:57 - Oladipo has a combined 72 for his two dunks. LaVine had 45 on his first dunk. The minimum score is a 30. The host asks, in all seriousness, “Do you think the score will be good enough to take home the trophy?” I’ll let you figure out what’s wrong with this picture.
11:01 - Zach LaVine wins the dunk contest by doing the same dunk three times, each time less impressive than the last. But they were still impressive, nonetheless. LaVine's performance will hopefully end the event’s oscillation between somewhat exciting to outright boring over the past ten years… just like Taken brought back the old-school action movie after a ten-year slump following The Matrix, and just like “Uptown Funk” will hopefully bring us out of the music hell hole that is this millenium. Zach Lowe of Grantland tweets: “Would you be surprised if Zach LaVine won the next 5 dunk contests? That should be his goal -- start the first real dunk contest dynasty.” I hope he goes for it.
Please like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter!
Categories: All-Star Weekend