All-Star Weekend is now over. I spent much of the past few days watching all the associated shenanigans and overall it was pretty good. The game was unusually competitive and still featured a bunch of sick highlights, dribble moves, alley-opps, dunks and other big plays. Good times. Sort of like Saturday night â€” except the exact opposite.
Oh well. Win some, lose some.
Along those lines, we wanted to bring you the best and worst of the weekend. Here’s a full breakdown: Lion Face/Lemon Face-style (which, if you forgot, is based on this).
And feel free to add any of your own personal Lion Faces and Lemon faces from the weekend in the comments below.
Lemon Face – Dunk Contest
Dwight’s reaction sums it all up. (via @jose3030, who you need to follow)
There’s obviously only one real way to make the contest culturally relevant again. You open it up to players not in the NBA and let them have some sort of extended dunk-off tournament where the best guy (or two) gets a spot in the contest. We’re past the point where all the best dunkers in the world are in the NBA. LeBron, Dwight and a few other guys are definitely as good as it gets for the most part, but there are all these semi-pro dunk teams around who do this stuff for a living. (For evidence, see the “amateur” contest from this weekend below). If the NBA wants to keep elevating the level of this contest, they need to bring in better â€” or at least more willing â€” talent. It’s not like your average sports fan knows who Shannon Brown or DeMar DeRozan is any more than The Air Up There or some obscure French dude with ridiculous springs. Nor do they care who the person dunking is if it isn’t someone who is already famous.
Sure, the NBA wants to promote their young players and the occasional Nate Robinson will emerge to semi-stardom, but it’s not like even great performances from guys like Gerald Green turned them into anything more than footnotes on the All-Star Weekend Wikipedia page. So let the non-pro dunkers enter and win a few so that the LeBron-type guys will hopefully be more up for suiting up and repping the NBA to “bring the trophy back to the league.” Also, remove any contract clauses that force players to defend their championship the next year. I’m guessing that part of the reason LeBron didn’t compete was because he didn’t want to be obligated to do it for five years straight after he kept winning. The Vince Carter one-and-done contest was the best ever and although I would have liked to see him again, it’s just as good that he never returned. Lastly, give the winner a big check, obviously. This should have happened years ago. Pony up $1 million, Sprite, and let’s make this thing exciting again even without props and throwback jerseys.
Lion Face – Nate
He shouldn’t have been in the competition since he obviously doesn’t have any more dunks to show the world, but he even though the dunks he did do weren’t revolutionary, they were still pretty nice. Doesn’t come close to making up for a terrible contest, but it wasn’t really Nate’s fault. Blame the other three guys who brought literally no creativity, excitement, “HOLY S***” factor or showmanship to the table. More memorably, Nate did some color commentary during the Rookie Challenge game and was unexpectedly really good at it. I figured he would be passable, but he actually did great work. Much better than Reggie Miller â€” despite the fact that he had to stay on guard to avoid Kevin McHale’s advances. Word aaapp!!! (pic via @BlazersEdge)
Lemon Face – Reggie Miller
It pains me to say this since he was my childhood hero and all, but Reggie has to get off the sidelines. Put him into the studio if you want, but he’s just awful giving his unfiltered reactions to things on the court. And it marred the whole weekend.
Lion Face – Tyreke Evans
This guy will be in the big boy’s game on Sunday next year and showed us exactly why during the Rookie game. He’s an uberstar in the making and even had the gravitas to share his MVP trophy with DeJuan Blair, who put up an impressive 20/20 himself. Thanks for taking Tyler Hansbrough though, Larry Bird. I really appreciate it. (I’m lying.)
Lemon Face – Brook Lopez
I love ya, Brook, but what with the normally dominant sophomore squad getting easily handled by the rookies on Friday night, it’s starting to look like no team with you on it can win. Plus, what’s the deal with that supplex you put on Dejuan Blair right at the end of the game? Dude has no knees. Be easy, Bro Lo.
Lion Face – Alicia Keys & Shakira
Apparently they sing, too. (Here’s a good shot of Shakira, also from @jose3030)
Lemon Face – Usher’s Wardrobe
You looked ridiculous.
Lion Face – The Basketball Jones
Good work by Skeets, Tas, JD and The Intern bringing the off-beat coverage all weekend. Here are a two of my favorites videos. Find more here.
Lemon Face – H.O.R.S.E.
I like the idea, but the HORSE game was a pretty terrible again this year. Some of it is on the guys they selected. Not a lot of creativity, which is perhaps even worse than not having any creativity for the dunk contest. If you agree to do this, at least spend 15 minutes before you get there to think up three or four quirky shots. Omri had a kick-the-ball-at-the-rim thing that didn’t work and nothing else. Rajon had nothing aside from that standing-on-top-of-the-scorer’s-table jumper that anyone would have come up with. KD wasn’t much better, but he at least has a little personality. Seriously … c’mon, guys. Bounce it off the floor. Take some lefty jumpers. Do a hook shot from three. Throw up some underhand shots or behind-the-back shots. Whatever. Just do something interesting. Some trick shots, perhaps.
So there’s that, which made it weak. But worse is the presentation. There’s no need for all the lag-time and commentary by EJ, Kenny and Chuck. We really don’t need replays of routine jumpshots, TNT. Just make the whole thing more casual and ditch the ref involvement. It’s not that serious. Just get three creative guys who like putting on a show, give them the ball, tell em to shoot in order and get out of the way.
Lion Face – Rajon Rondo
Who knew he could hit like 8 threes in a row? More than anything, it just goes to show that even the “bad shooters” in the NBA are amazing and that watching two guys shoot three-pointers is more entertaining than this H.O.R.S.E. event.
Lion Face – Steve Nash
For doing this as he was introduced for the Skills Competition less than 24 hours after lighting the Olympic torch/cauldron/bonfire/whatever it was. (via @jose3030)
Lemon Face – You…
…if you didn’t watch the Legends Brunch. It’s probably the best part of the weekend. Bill Walton spoke and Wolf Blitzer was there. What more do you need to know? (Some coverage here if you missed it.)
Lion Face – Cowboys Stadium
I wasn’t there so it’s hard to say much. 108,000 and change is pretty amazing though, even if Jerry Jones unfortunately had to be one of them #cowboyssuck
Lemon Face – Jerry Jones
Good work by him, just needed to point out that his face literally looks like a lemon â€” a lemon you find at the bottom of a Corona bottle the day after a party.
Lion Face – Governator
Look at him. He loves it.
Lion Face – Zach Randolph
It took a while, but I have learned to accept that Zach Randolph has redeemed his career by becoming a high-caliber veteran who taught his teammates how to win rather than being just a career malcontent who brought sadness and orphan tears wherever he went. It’s weird. But I’m cool with it. What I was still not ready to see, however, was Z-Bo being the guy who would start playing defense in an All-Star Game and spur everyone else to start taking it seriously. But that happened. Remember that Dwyane Wade behind-the-back pass that was going out of bound before LeBron saved it through-his-legs to Rondo, who threw a behind-the-back-pass of his own to a cutting (I think) Wade? That would have been the highlight of the night … but Z-Bo challenged the lay-up and fouled the shooter. Then, Zach again challenged a layup within the next minute, again fouling pretty hard. The game then decidedly shifted towards the competitive and people stopped taking bad shots, instead dumping it into the post and penetrating for layups rather than launching forced fadeaways. And the result was the best finish since the MJ game in 2003. Thanks, Z-Bo. Still not sure what sort of electro-shock therapy or labotomy you had, but it sure has been effective.
Lemon Face – David Lee & Gerald Wallace
Both of you “deserved” to be All-Stars, but you’re both boring during the actual game. Thus, that’s why I never really care when guys like Lee, Kaman and Marc Gasol don’t make it. Guys like Derrick Rose, Chauncey and Rondo are built for these types of games and always better selections in my world â€” all other things being relatively equal.
Lion Face – Wade and LeBron and DWill and Melo
You saw them. You know why.
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)