The NFL Pro Bowl is a weak joke whether it takes place before the Super Bowl or after or on your grammy's birthday. There's just no way to play said sport at less than 100 percent.[jump]
For baseball, I've long waffled over the logic of turning an exhibition into a game where the winning league gets home field advantage for the World Series. When the practice first began in 2003, I was genuinely intrigued by the rise in intensity -- and that interest continues to this day. Yet last year, I began teetering with some polarity when Joe Mauer appeared as a gimp during a day when he undoubtedly could have used some much-needed rest. The gravity of the game keeps players in the lineup -- But for the ultimate benefit and at the expense of whom?
The NHL's new version of an All-Star draft was actually pretty creative, although the clever preamble to the event was soon measured by a contest that saw 21 goals netted. That's not hockey; it's lacrosse.
Which segues to the NBA's version, which takes place this weekend in Los Angeles.
I actually plan to tune-in for a spell just to watch Kevin Love's deserved debut, although this will be the first time I've aimed to watch the game since Kevin Garnett started his string of appearances back in the late 90's. Aside from the Three-Point Contest, I personally derive no delight from watching some of the world's finest athletes play a defenseless battle to see who can get to 150 points first.
In hopes that the NBA will soon adopt some new features to their All-Star affair, here's a few suggestions to get the ball bouncing. As always, reader suggestions are encouraged herein.
The NBA All-Star weekend would be better if . . .
- There were an 11-foot hoop for the Slam Dunk Contest. After 27 years of the once-captivating event, haven't we seen every way to stuff a basketball? I have no doubt Blake Griffin would rise to the occasion (lame pun intended).
- The game employed a 4-point shot from beyond half-court. The NBA should have implemented this feature for regular season games years ago anyway.
- Instead of the WNBA stars competing in the Skills Challenge, have the women face off against an All-Star team from the NCAA Men's Division III level. That would offer the most truly competitive game of the weekend.
- The Celebrity All-Star Game forced the actors to dress and perform in character from one oftheir most memorable roles. Wouldn't you rather watch Jason Alexander offering a neurotic debate over whether to pass the ball as George Costanza then actually watching Alexander shoot? (And it would provide the chance for an inadvertant Costanza elbow to the face of fellow participant, Justin Bieber.)
- Stealing a page from the NHL one-time attempt to pit "North America versus the World," I'd like to see the NBA go the same route instead of watching the same East vs. West fixtures toy around for two-plus hours.
- Given the plethora of human canvasses in the league, let's see a few of these dudes get painted-up further with live tattoo artists during halftime
- Instead of the tame "Rookies vs. Sophomores Game," let's replace the second-year with NBA head and assistant coaches. No dunking allowed. Hell, the Wolves' bench alone offers over 3,200 games of regular season and playoff game experience.
- Akin to the NHL's wildly-popular annual outdoor game, the NBA gave a nod to its own roots and replaced the hardwood with asphalt.
- Shaq just did this constantly over the course of three straight days.