ALL-STAR WEEKEND! ALL-STAR WEEKEND! IT’S FINALLY HERE! I know lots of people don’t care about All-Star weekend, but it’s a fun break. Players get to rest their aching muscles and show off against their friends. Writers don’t have to glue their eyeballs to 12 games in a night. And most of all, fans get to revel in the wild novelty of it all. Oh, it also means it’s Roundtable Time! Brian, Derek, Kyle, Noam, Eric, and Andrew: take it away.
1. Complete this sentence and explain: James White’s first dunk will be [blank].
Brian: Successful. He will complete the dunk and thus avoid becoming Chris Andersen.
Kyle: “safe.” And this is why:
Eric: Viradiculous. It will go viral, and it will be ridiculous.
Andrew: Self-fulfilling. If you’re a big enough basketball fan to peruse NBA blogs, then you already know how awesome James White’s dunk repertoire has the potential to be. But I’ve had my fair share of conversations with people who have no idea who he is. If White can resurrect the Dunk Contest that Vince Carter killed and Jason Richardson buried — only to murder it again with some stupefyingly combination of rim-rocking devastation — then those who expected nothing less will be satisfied. In a parallel universe where he somehow peters out, though, “James White who?” will be the answer to its own question.
2. Considering how terribly the Lakers are doing, does that basically confirm that Kobe’s going to play 40 minutes on Sunday night and dominate everyone and everything?
Brian: Kobe has taken at least 20 shots in an All-Star game three times, and he’s taken at least 15 shots in 9 of the 12 games he’s played. He’s going to take 35 on Sunday.
Derek: Just forty minutes? He may not let them take him out. But if there was ever a platform for Kobe to take out his frustrations with this season, the All-Star game would probably be the ideal platform.
Kyle: Not so fast. While it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case, this feels more like a “passing of the guard” type game. Kobe will get the start, but I expect this to be Durant’s offense to lead. That being said, I like the chances of the ball being in Bryant’s hand should this game come down to the wire. I’ll say Bryant hits a game winner in a send off of sorts, as he is no longer the face of the NBA.
Noam: Not sure what the Lakers doing terribly has to do with it. I do, however, think it assures us that Dwight gets frozen out. Or at the very least, yelled at quite often.
Eric: Kobe’s going to play 40 minutes, take zero shots, and gun for 20 assists all while screaming at LeBron, “DO YOU BUY THAT I’M A DISTRIBUTOR NOW? DO YOU? MAMBA OUT.”
Andrew: Call me insane [Ed. Note: YOU'RE INSAAAAANE], but I have a feeling we might see a more mellow Kobe. I envision a player who is secure in the knowledge that he’s one of the greatest of all-time, has been a major part of five championships teams and is still the measuring stick for a new generation — before they can compare themselves to Jordan, they have to compare themselves to Kobe. He’ll play loose and free, dishing dimes and calling for lobs from players on both sides of the court. And I have a feeling he might be able to convince Kyrie to throw him one.
Then I foresee Kobe hiring a Smush Parker lookalike assassin to make LeBron “disappear.” Forever.
3. #TeamChuck, #TeamShaq, #TeamDrake, or #TeamBreezy?
Derek: #TeamJames over everything. You already know… #TJOE
Kyle: #TeamShaq. The Diesel stacked up on explosive and shooters. #TeamChuck is going to get every rebound, but is that important in a game like this?
Eric: #TeamShaq because, like Brian, I’m #TeamKyrie.
Andrew: TeamPierre. (This isn’t twitter. I’m not using a hashtag. Heathens.)
4. Create your ideal All-Star Weekend event. Right here, right now.
Brian: A one on one tournament featuring only players who hate to shoot. Just imagine Pablo Prigioni and Rajon Rondo breaking one another down off the dribble then just passing the ball out to each other when they get to the rim. We could also put Andrew Bogut and Roy Hibbert against each other, and watch the apathetic jump hooks clang out for hours and hours. It would be marvelous.
Derek: Well, my ideal event would be actual meaningful basketball, but that’s not going to happen. What I think would be fun, and a blatant rip-off of the NHL, but have the players pick their teams. For some reason that would make things more interesting since we’d get to see who chooses who, and how the best players would build a team. I know that’s not really answering the question, but that’s about where my level of creativity is at.
Kyle: Harlem Globetrotters vs NBA All Stars. The NBA All Stars aren’t the Washington Generals, but the Globetrotters are the essence of basketball entertainment, and that is what this weekend is all about. It would be fun to see the blend of skill and show, as I believe both sides are capable of adapting their styles to fit this format.
Noam: Raymond Felton, Boris Diaw, and all of the cupcakes. Only one man survives.
Eric: Knockout tournament, starting with half court shots, consisting of everyone that is participating in the All-Star Game, Dunk Contest, and 3 Point Shootout. Let’s go full out high school gym class with this thing.
Andrew: Excellent ideas from the rest of the HP crew so far, but the answer is simple — and it involves LARRY SANDERS!
Yep, I’m talking about a shot blocking contest. So many different ways to go about this. Obviously, you need a Slam Dunk Contest-style judging panel to award style points. And as much as I love players who keep their deflections in bounds and treat blocked shots like close-range outlet passes, a blocked shot contest has to reward players for swatting balls back to the Houston airport for an international flight to Botswana.
The real question is a juicy one — who shoots the shots that get blocked? Do you ask an good friend on another team? Do you have a teammate do it? What if Pekovic smashes a ball right back into Ricky Rubio’s precious face? Would Serge Ibaka blocking Russell Westbrook’s layups force Bestbrook to go for a vicious dunk on the Serge Protector?
I WANT THIS SO BADLY.
5. It’s Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday on All-Star Sunday. How do you think the league will commemorate him? What are the odds of him having to shoot a contested jumper over LeBron, like an opening pitch at an important baseball game?
Brian: I anticipate seeing Jordan’s game-tying fadeaway from the 03 All-Star Game approximately 15,000 times this weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a prime passive-aggressive MJ speech at halftime or something.
Derek: I’m thinking “Michael Jordan Dad Jeans Night sponsored by Levi’s.” Who’s with me?
Forget the contested jumper over LeBron– why not just make the GOAT James Harden’s injury replacement? Aside from the blasphemy of him putting on a Western Conference jersey, which wouldn’t be that big of a deal anymore since we still have photographic evidence of him in a Wizards uniform.
Kyle: Maybe Jordan can toss up the ball to start the game? In my fantasy world, His Airness is the first player announced with his trademark introduction music in the background. The old Chicago announcer (Ray Clay) serenades the crowd with the standard “From North Carolina, a 6-6 guard, Mi-chaelllll Jor-dannnnnn.”
Noam: The entire NBA will turn into a baseball league for just under two seasons.
Eric: To coincide with MJ’s 50th birthday, David Stern will make gambling on the NBA legal in all 50 states for Sunday only. A fitting tribute, honestly.
Andrew: The best way the NBA could commemorate Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday? Present him with a cardboard cutout of Hakeem Olajuwon wearing his two championships rings, a time machine and a time-paradox clause that says if he decides to looper Jerry Krause while he’s in in the past, all of his championships will instead be won by Clyde Drexler.
6. Who is one player you’re most excited to see perform this weekend (any player, any event), and why?
Brian: Kenneth Faried. Dunk contest. Nuff said.
Derek: If I didn’t hate All-Star weekend in general I’d just be excited to see LeBron playing next to Kyrie and Durant with Chris Paul. Even if it’s in exhibition for, it’s kind of our fantasies being actualized, so that’s kind of cool. The celebrity game is pretty entertaining to see who can sorta ball and who probably just stepped onto a court for the first time, too.
Kyle: Matt Bonner in the 3 point contest. If he gets hot, the crowd will get behind him. I like the idea of player from San Antonio getting the crowd amped up. All the Spurs do is win games, and nobody wants to notice, but a strong (and lovable) performance from Bonner may be able to change that perception, for one night at least. #GingerJumper
Noam: Eric Bledsoe in the dunk contest. I don’t even know if he’s remotely capable of cool dunks outside of a game setting. But man, do I want to find out.
Eric: James White in the Dunk Contest because he is single handedly capable of making it a watchable event again.
Andrew: Pffft. Matt Bonner. 3-Point Contest. No question. Just sandwiches.