The returns have diminished with the NBA All-Star Weekend product
All-Star Weekend 2023 was alright. The Celebrity Game was cool. Had a lot of fun, silly moments. DK Metcalf played great out there, and The Miz’s half-court game-winner that wasn’t was a fun, memorable moment.
The Rising Stars Challenge was meh. Josh Giddey made history as the first, and to date only, in-game interview I didn’t hate. Jose Alvarado made it interesting in the final round and I loved seeing the passion from the teams during the mic’d up segments throughout the tourney.
All-Star Saturday Night was also fine. The Skills Challenge confused me and I instantly tuned out. The 3-Point Shootout was plenty entertaining. I was happy for Damian Lillard, felt bad for Kevin Huerter.
The Dunk Contest was definitely my favorite part. I was excited for Mac McClung, and he fully lived up to the hype. I get he’s a two-way contract player, but he is a professional dunker. Not new to this, true to this.
But on top of that, the rest of the contestants did mostly well. Trey Murphy was a formidable opponent, though he may have conceded on the second dunk in the final round. Jericho Sims did one arm-in-the-rim dunk too many, and his Duncan-like stoicism when doing them didn’t help his case, either. Y’gotta sell the dunk! K.J. Martin probably should’ve put a little more practice into his dunks.
It also helped that most of the dunks were completed on the first try. Getting dunks of the first try makes them pop more. Even if a contestant has an epic dunk, the excitement is taken out of it if it takes until the seventh attempt for it to go down.
I found it interesting that people decried the dunk contest just because a G-Leaguer won it. I initially took offense to this, as it felt like a shot at Mac, who I’ve enjoyed as a dunker since his college days. But I actually get it a few days removed from the moment. This is supposed to be the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. So it sure would be nice if more NBA players felt inclined to participate.
Then came Sunday. The G League All-Star Game came and went, with the final minutes of the game turning into an impromptu dunk contest. I feel kind of iffy about that, but it was kind of funny to see in real-time. The All-Star Draft was solid, mostly because LeBron and Giannis are engaging personalities. They should have done the starters first then the reserves. Reversing that order to save feelings was pointless, because ultimately we still saw who was picked last: Lauri Markkanen for the starters and Jaren Jackson Jr. for the reserves.
Post Malone’s pre-game performance was fun to me, but social media hates Post Malone so they all hated it. I was jealous of Jewel’s outfit during the American anthem and I hope she starts selling it so I can cop one. I never heard of Jully Black, but she looked absolutely stunning during the Canadian anthem. At halftime, the Afrobeat trio of Burna Boy, Tems, and Rema was every bit of awesome as I thought it would be.
The game itself…was meh. Some fun moments along the way, but a lot of it came and went, too. Tatum breaking the scoring record with 55 points was cool, and that 1-v-1 duel with Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown was pretty fun. LeBron dunking off the backboard in the first quarter was great, too.
Dame’s half-court shot three was great, a shame he couldn’t get anymore to fall after that. Donovan Mitchell also initially gunning for the MVP brought a little intrigue in the fourth as well, but it ended being Tatum all the way. Other than that, the All-Star Game just…was.
My All-Star weekend co-MVPs were Giannis Antetokounmpo and Janelle Monae. Giannis was a fully present participant in the festivities all weekend long. Celebrity Game coach on Friday, fully enthusiastic spectator on Saturday (his wrist injury kept him from competing in the Skills Challenge with his brothers; Jrue Holiday filled in for him), All-Star Team GM and scorer of the first points of the All-Star Game on Sunday.
He was enthusiastic the whole way, and I applaud him for that. While being surrounded by players who were “too cool” for it all (Jokic, Doncic, Anthony Edwards during his pregame interview), Giannis embraced the moment: I’m here and I’m going to enjoy myself as much as possible.
Janelle Monae gets my co-MVP nod because she’s foine and brought great energy to both of the things she did over the weekend: the Celebrity Game on Friday and her part during the LeBron presentation on Sunday.
So after coming away from the experience feeling mildly positive, imagine my lack of shock when I saw that the Internet absolutely hated the game and the weekend at large. One of the All-Star coaches and even one of the players within the game complained about the lack of competition. It was rated the least-watched weekend in ages.
Stepping back a bit, though, I get it. The coaches hate it, the players hate the game and don’t want to participate in any of the Saturday night festivities. Hell, Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards outright said recently they would not participate in the dunk contest at all.
So if the best players in the world are bored with the game that’s supposed to honor them, but they also don’t want to do any of the sideshows the day before, then what are we really doing here?
Additionally, fans seem to loathe the All-Star game from the start of the voting process all the way until the final buzzer of the actual game. And every contest except the 3-point shootout seems to be broken in the eyes of the fandom. And even with the 3-point shootout, everyone takes exception to which contestants make it and which don’t. So if you don’t actually like anything that’s happening this weekend, then, again, what are we really doing here?
Apathy was phrase that pays this past weekend. Players didn’t care, fans didn’t care. No one actually cares about the All-Star festivities anymore. Even though I enjoyed them just fine, maybe it is time to just scrap it all. No more All-Star weekends in general. Just give players the week off.