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NBA All-Star Weekend: A Call for Change

By Frederick Harrell
On February 26, 2022

The annual NBA All-Star weekend took place in Cleveland, Ohio last week. Like always, the weekend holds various fun and exciting events that capture the camaraderie of the NBA players and their fans. 

This year’s All-Star weekend was bound to be special due to the fact the NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary as an active sports organization.

 For the special circumstances, the NBA hosted a ceremony for the 75th Anniversary Team during halftime of the All-Star game with Grambling State’s own Willis Reed being named as one of the players on that list.

The same night, fans were able to enjoy an all-out shooting barrage from Steph Curry as he helped propel Team LeBron past Team Durant. 

The weekend also showcased an all-new format for the Friday Rising Stars game that included Cade Cunningham, LaMelo Ball, Jalen Suggs, and Evan Mobley.

Ever since I was a child, I have always been a fan of the NBA. I can consider it one of my first loves and something I had a passion for at a very young age. The NBA is what gave me inspiration to pick up a basketball, in fact. I have always looked forward to All-Star weekend because this is the chance to see my favorite players showcase their God-given talents and put on an unforgettable show.

This year’s All-Star weekend had all the momentum to be yet another classic, but some time along the lines of Saturday is when I lost interest and faith in that claim.

NBA All-Star Saturday, the fan-favorite day of the whole weekend, held some of the most disappointing performances I have ever witnessed. Saturday’s events usually consist of the traditional Skills Challenge, the 3-Point Contest, and the Slam Dunk Challenge. Outside a decent showing with the 3-Point Contest, the Skills Challenge and Dunk Contest missed its mark tremendously.

The Skills Challenge, just like the Rising Stars game, has gone through some changes in format to make it somewhat more “exciting.” There seems to be more change that still needs to be put in play, as Team Cavs steamrolled past Team Rooks in the final round. Although Team Cavs had a very good showing, effort and energy lacked on Team Rook’s side of the court. Team Rooks seemed to be on cruise control during the whole challenge, even drawing the commentators to take notice. I took a mental note of it and hoped the evening would only get better.

Now, let’s talk about the real culprit of the evening: the 2022 Slam Dunk Contest. 

This year’s contestants were the high-flyers Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks, Cole Anthony of the Orlando Magic, Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets, and Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Golden State Warriors. 

To me, the contest had the potential to be great, especially watching these players hoop throughout the year and seeing their potential in this field of play.

 Unfortunately, I have never been more wrong in my life. After many failed attempts, gimmicks, and lack of originality, Obi Toppin was crowned the winner of the night after a lackluster performance from his competitors. The dunk contest was maybe one of the most criticized events of the weekend, leading to an outcry on social media to change the whole landscaping of the event. Some even suggested that the infamous contest should be replaced by All-Stars competing in “one on one matchups” against one another.

There are questions that still need to be addressed-what does the NBA need to do about the Slam Dunk Contest? Are there other ways to change the Skills Challenge to make it even more competitive? Will it be possible to add another event to an already packed weekend?

My suggestions are quite simple: continue to make slight adjustments and make these challenges worthwhile for not only the fans but the players as well. Starting with the Skills Challenge. 

The current format is not bad at all. But after the noticeable lack of energy from one team out of three, the stakes for the winner should be higher. 

There should be cash prizes with the chance to donate to a charity of choice, sort of like how they have the format for the actual All-Star game. The same can be done for the Slam Dunk Contest, which in my opinion is slowly losing its popularity year by year. It has been six years since the last great, iconic duel between Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon. Even before that, the contest has lacked participation from known superstars dating back to LeBron. 

Many fans suggest there is no need for the dunk contest any more because we have seen every possible dunk be done. Other fans propose there be cash prizes and other incentives that will bribe superstars back into the picture.

Only time will tell if the NBA All-Star weekend will remain the same in the future. With the way the league has a way of giving fans a voice, hopefully, we’re able to vote on a possible change to keep the energy high and the weekend rejuvenated.    

 

Photo Courtesy: NBA.com

 

 

 

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