And it was then, with 14 seconds remaining in a pointless Rising Stars Challenge, that Greg Monroe went from being one of the most boringly effective players in the NBA to a basketball comedy legend. Personally, I am very glad he made the heel turn because this is one of my all-time favorite moments in All-Star Weekend history.
If there’s one player in the Rising Stars Challenge that you would have guessed would have the ball dribbled through his legs while playing defense, it probably would have been DeMarcus Cousins. And you probably would have also guessed that Ricky Rubio was the one doing the dribbling. Glad it worked out exactly how we imagined.
As you know and as you probably could have guessed, Iman Shumpert was going to jump over Jeremy Lin and his couch during this year’s dunk contest. But then Shumpert had to go and get hurt, totally ruining our sofa-based fun. Total bummer, unless you prefer dunks that involve only dunks and not props.
But even if you’re a purist, once you hear the dunk plan, you’ll probably agree that it’d be pretty funny to see what they had in mind. From Ben Golliver at CBS Sports:
“We actually had a sweet idea,” Lin explained. “Landry was going to roll a couch out with a cover over it, I was going to be sleeping underneath it, and then we were going to pull the cover, I was going to throw Iman an alley-oop from the couch, and he was going to jump over both me and the couch, windmill it and then sit down and have Landry hand him a Sprite. That was our idea, but it didn’t happen.”
OK, so I am on record with saying I’m glad that this isn’t actually happening because I prefer actual dunks, but I am so on board with this idea. It’s just so over the top that it’d work, just as long as Iman Shumpert made the dunk. It’s the kind of thing JaVale McGee would have thought up, which is actually a compliment in a dunk contest.
Nonetheless, the dream is dead. There will be no Jeremy, no Landry and no couch at the dunk contest. Maybe we dodged a bullet and Shumpert’s injury will help prevent the dunk contest from devolving in to a prop-off that features occasional dunking, but it still would have been hilarious for those few seconds when they wheeled out the couch and we saw that Jeremy Lin was under the cover. It’s probably better in our minds anyway.
When asked to think of my definitive All-Star Weekend moment, I immediately thought of an incident that served as a formative aspect in my development as an obsessive basketball fan. It’s not what made me love basketball in the first place, but it is an exact time when I can pinpoint realizing that I loved basketball to a ridiculous degree — Cedric Ceballos’s blindfolded dunk in the 1992 Dunk Contest.
Don’t get me wrong, I can think of at least a dozen dunks more impressive than Cedric’s right off the top of my head. Anything by Michael, Spud, Dominique, Nate or Dwight comes to mind. But the Ceballos blindfolded dunk is branded on to my personality as a basketball fan unlike any other for one simple reason.
I listened to that shit on the radio.
I don’t remember why I was unable to get to a television to watch that year’s dunk contest, but I do remember stopping everything I was doing to make sure that I at least had the ability to listen to dunks. I was 12 and this shit was important. I look back now and realize that the whole point of the dunk contest is that dunks are visually impressive. It didn’t matter to me. I had to know who won that year’s dunk contest, even if it meant listening to someone verbally describe impressive visual feats. It was my first moment of being a ridiculously obsessive NBA fan.
One of the most frustrating parts to me of All-Star Weekends, at least in recent years, has been the general lack of flair shown by the young guys. Humility has been pounded into these dudes as being such a virtue of the game — and a lot of them are probably a little shy in their inexperience to begin with — that you don’t get to see any of the arrogance of youth that you’d otherwise expect from young athletes at the highest level of their craft.
All-Star Weekend is a time where the game’s best and brightest should be showing off not only their games but their personalities. As arguably the most character-driven of the Big Four American sports, it makes sense that the sport should use its high-visibility weekend to introduce its marquee players, and what those players are all about, to national audiences. Yet, if you were to draw a conclusion from watching the silent, grim-faced participants of the Rookie-Sophomore game, you’d think the future of the league rested in the hands of a bunch of swaggerless automatons.
When we saw Derrick Rose, reigning No. 1 pick for the Chicago Bulls, at the 2009 Skills Challenge, we still didn’t know all that much about him as a pro. We knew he was going to be good, though we wouldn’t know quite how good until the Bulls’ first-round series against the Celtics in that year’s postseason. Moreover, he had shown the PR reticence typical of rookies in high-pressure situations, saying little and giving nothing of import away, especially visually, where his face remained a perpetually blank canvas. The only off-court headline he made his entire rookie year was for a precarious injury he suffered while eating an apple in bed. Even though we all suspected that the story was bogus — how could it not be? — Rose had given us no real evidence to prove that he wasn’t capable of being that absurd or boring.
The Basketball Jones are in Orlando and ready to party! And by party, we mean sit by the pool and talk NBA All-Star predictions! Skeets and Tas take you through the main events of the NBA’s biggest weekend. Can Kevin Durant “steal” the three-point contest? Will John Wall repeat as Rising Stars MVP? And will injury replacement Jeremy Evans show he’s The Association’s best dunker? Watch and find out.
To win a TBJ prize pack, tell us who will win the following: Rising Stars MVP, Skills Competition, Three-Point Shootout, Dunk Contest, and All-Star MVP. (Also, tell us the final score in the All-Star Game as a tiebreaker.)
It’s All-Star Game time, which means it’s crazy shoes time. Let’s take a look at the what kicks the most notable superstars are going to be wearing this Sunday.
Kevin Durant — Nike Zoom KD IV
Orlando is in the heart of America’s spaceship district, just a stone’s throw from lauchpads on the East Coast, so there’s a big space theme for Nike’s All-Star shoes. That’s why you have outer space speckles all over the midsole and shiny space silver on the upper. These are really great, even if it takes a bold man to wear silver shoes.
Kobe Bryant — Nike Zoom Kobe VII
More space, more awesome. I am not exactly sure what sort of nebulas and intergalactic clouds these are all over Kobe Bryant’s shoes, but I like them. Not the kind of shoe you’d want to wear everyday — unless you’re Buzz “Cameos” Aldrin, then it’s OK — but for a one-time All-Star Game special, they’re perfect.