Dear Santa Claus,
It’s me, Sonny. I just wanted to get this out there before the big day. I understand you are probably really busy this time of year, but I assure you that this is important. Last year you helped to deliver the greatest Christmas present any basketball fan could ask for: the return of the NBA after a 16 game lockout. This year on my Christmas list you will see a drastic change from years past where I typically didn’t ask for much NBA related stuff besides an occasional jersey or DVD. I would really appreciate it if you didn’t necessarily have your elves craft me any handmade products this year. Rather, I’m just asking you to use your mystical powers to make sure the following things occur:
– I want to see Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins face off in a UFC fight, back alley brawl, backyard wrestling match, or just putting the dukes up at midcourt. Some sort of violent altercation between the two of them is all I ask for, and really it doesn’t seem like it’s out of the question.
– I need you to keep Stephen Curry and the rest of the Golden State Warriors healthy please. I know this is a lot to ask since Curry has had chronic ankle issues since his junior season at Davidson and Andrew Bogut’s arm almost snapped off of his body a few years back, but this is a hell of a story that should not be derailed. Plus I picked them to finish 7th in the western conference before the season started, and not many people can say that, but that’s beside the point. Additionally, not too many people realize that this is one of the better teams in the league. Their win in Miami 9 days ago was far from a fluke, and neither was their 7 game road trip that they went 6-1 on, defeating 3 eastern conference playoff teams along the way. As long as Stephen Curry remains healthy and playing at an MVP caliber level (actually, David Lee has been just as good), the Warriors are an intriguing contender in the western conference. – For all of the past, present and future abolitionists everywhere, please make sure Andrew Bynum never cuts his hair and continues to look like a modern day Frederick Douglass.
– Since I hold you in higher regard than I do David Stern, and it’s much more likely you’ll actually listen to me, I’m going to blueprint how we can make NBA All-Star weekend better, and you do your best to put it into action. To make this as simple as possible, I’ll map it out in chronological order.
- On All-Star Friday night, everything is just about perfect. As long as Kevin Hart is involved in the celebrity game, it becomes can’t miss TV after his performance last year. The Rising Stars Challenge is also as good as it can get. As long as we keep super athletic guys whose sole devotion is to make the SportsCenter Top 10 at the end of the night, we should be fine.
- We move to All-Star Saturday Night, which happens to be my least favorite night of All-Star weekend since it is in desperate need of star power, particularly in the Dunk Contest which is on life support after the atrocity of last year. Let’s just say that last year it was trending on Twitter for all of the wrong reasons. It’s a relatively simple fix: Offer some sort of incentive to some of the top guys in the league to get some big names in the contest. If you need to throw in a donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, the league should definitely do so to avoid a collective clamor from fans to get rid of the contest all together. After LeBron, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, etc. are coerced into the contest, tell them to cut all of the corny stuff out. I don’t need to see someone jump over a car or wear a goofy outfit when they are dunking; I just want a throwback to every pre-2000 dunk contest when guys just dunked the ball and the crowd went nuts for the right reasons. Not because Dwight Howard decided to pretend he was Superman just two years before he would start being the biggest A-hole in all of the NBA. And as long as big names remain in the 3-Point Contest and Skills Challenge then things are good.
- The All-Star game should be treated the same way that the Rising Stars Challenge was last year. Two captains pick their respective teams, without what their conference mattering. The captain’s would be chosen by fan vote as a means to keep the fans somewhat involved, but not involved enough for uneducated/slightly biased fans to vote Jeremy Lin as a starter (at the last ballot returns, Lin was 3rd in the voting for western conference guards). Hypothetically, let’s say that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant maintain their lead in the voting standings; it’s then up to those two to pick their teams with the only rule being you can’t pick more than two of your own teammates for your team. Can you imagine the rivalries that would be formed and animosity between the teams, especially if the teams were formed in a schoolyard pick’em? I would be willing to bet it would be the most competitive All-Star game yet. For the sake of this idea, this column and my own personal entertainment, here are the 24 players who I would like to see playing in the All-Star game this year, paying no attention to conferences:
-Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, Dwight Howard, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Al Jefferson, David Lee, Kevin Love, OJ Mayo, Joakim Noah, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Zach Randolph, Josh Smith, Anderson Varejao, Dwyane Wade, and Russell Westbrook.
– Would it be totally out of the question to ask for everyone to fully appreciate just how good LeBron James is? Yeah, I’m probably getting a little ambitious with this one.
– I know that sequels are rarely as good as the original version, but I want Stephen A. Smith going off on Kwame Brown for 2 minutes straight, part two. Maybe it won’t happen with Kwame Brown since Kwame will never be this relevant again, but it’s totally in play that Stephen A. could snap and go off on just about anyone.
– Have you checked out the franchise names that have been trademarkedfor New Orleans? Santa, I’m thinking we go with something a little snazzier than the likes of the New Orleans Mosquitos. Bayou Ballers, maybe?
– To no surprise of my own, the Bobcats went from 7-5 to 7-18. How much fun would it be if their owner, Michael Jordan, made yet another comeback? Look, it can’t be that difficult to use your powers to coax the most maniacally competitive athlete of all-time out of his management position and back onto the basketball court. He clearly has the itch to do so. I don’t care how ripped apart I get for saying this, but I think for a four minute stretch MJ can still be an effective player, despite the fact that he is 49 years old and has been retired for a decade. You can’t convince me that if Jerry Stackhouse, 38 years old, can get crunch time minutes for Brooklyn, a playoff team, then the greatest basketball player of all-time couldn’t play down the stretch for a team who has lost 13 straight games. Sure, Jordan would likely be a complete defensive liability and limit any kind of fast paced tempo you wanted to play at, but wouldn’t teams still be terrified of Jordan late in games? I’d think so. At the very least, even if Jordan was clearly in over his head, this would make the Bobcats completely relevant every single night. They’d be the top story on SportsCenter, PTI, Around the Horn, First Take, etc. and would be by far the hottest ticket in the NBA if Jordan made a 3rd return to the NBA. Realistically, that is probably the only way it could ever happen. Unfortunately for Charlotte, this is totally unrealistic… unless you can come through Santa.