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Stray Bullets: All-Star Weekend

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The NBA put on a show last night.  There were 108,713 fans on hand to watch the East win, 141-139, in a game that came down to the final seconds.  It was a surreal event held in the awesome Cowboys Stadium, a place big enough to fit all of the star power (and egos) of the players and entertainers in the building.  It was the NBA's shining moment.  As a show, it was moment that put the Super Bowl to shame.  Yet, the whole time, I kept thinking that this scene should be the NBA Finals.

What the NBA should do is have this kind of show for the first 2 games of the Finals.   Like the All-Star game, a neutral site in a large venue, on a weekend.  Make the Finals a mainstream trip-worthy event.  The Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Olympics, and NBA All-Star Games are those kinds of events.  It's not just about the game, but the spectacle of them that makes it something to go to, whether or not you have a rooting interest in the teams involved.  The fan activities, the media, the parties, the shows.  The Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Olympics, and NBA All-Star Game are events you keep on a list (mine at least) of sporting events to go to in your lifetime.  You want the experience of it all.  Now imagine a weekend filled with all the fanfare and activities of the All-Star Game for the Championship games that matter.  Like the Super Bowl.  The NBA needs to make it's most prestigious event the Finals, but it seems like it's the All-Star Game.

  • The NBA can also use the weekend to showcase their awards winners.  Give them a platform for casual fans to recognize the league's MVP, All-NBA Teams,Defensive, Rookie, 6th Man, and Coach of the Year.

    The hardcore fans already know these things, but the long NBA playoffs put some stars on the back burner and keep them out of the public eye.  The NBA markets it's stars like no other sport, so they owe it to themselves to market stars that are forgotten by the casual fans by the time the Finals roll around.
  • After the NBA Finals Weekend, they can resume the 2-2-1 format.  That keeps home court advantage for the team that earned it.
  • If NBA Finals weekend can't happen, how about a All-NBA Game after the season?

    Take the three All-NBA teams, add the ROY, and 6th Man (if they aren't on an All-NBA team already), then have the players or Commish pick a player (or however many is needed) to round it out to 18 players.  Split them up.  Play a game a week after the Finals.  Imagine an All-Star game in which the World's best ballers can really play, without having to worry about team interests after?  The NBA can then use this as a final capping to the season.  The ultimate way to showcase NBA Champs and Award winners.  Not as big as last night though.
  • During the All-Star break, I decided to go back and check my Pre-season predictions.  Oops.  I wrong on some most of them.  Let's review a couple:

    Prediction #1:  Lakers Record: 68-14
    The Lakers have had some high and lows in the 1st half, and unless they go on some '72 Lakers 33 straight wins type of run, it doesn't look like 14 losses is happening.  As talented as this team is, they are surely capable of a special streak, but it now seems that 18-20 losses seems about right.  With 28 games left, I don't think it's too much to ask for no more than 4-5 losses.
    Revised prediction:  64-18

    Prediction #2:  MVP: Kobe Bryant
    It seems that Kobe's MVP candidacy is slipping.  With LeBron being his awesome self, and the MVP race already being something like a pre-season college football poll, it was LeBron's to lose from the start, and the "King" has done nothing but get better as the season progress.  Add in the fact that some moronic voters will probably hold the 3-0 Lakers record sans Kobe against him.  So, unless the Lakers do go on that '72 kind of run, I don't see Kobe getting his 2nd MVP.  Even if the Lakers finish out spectacularly, people will chalk it up to Kobe's teammates.
    Revised Prediction:  Lebron (obviously...but I'm hoping on that 28-0 run)
  • Twice last night, Kobe had the loudest ovations.  LeBron didn't come close.  It's just another sign who the alpha dog in the hierarchy of NBA superstardom is.  When you read someone claim Lebron is the NBA's most popular player.  It's bogus.  It's just that not as many people hate LeBron.  They either like him, or could care less.  With Kobe, it seems you either really love him or simply despise him.  I'll say that some of the favor other players compared to Kobe receive, are due to the fact that they aren't Kobe.  That's how popular and polarizing the Mamba is.  Imagine how far ahead he'd be if he weren't so polarizing.
  • It had to kill Kobe to watch the All-Star Game come down to the final seconds.  With 108,000+ there? At least the Game is in LA next year.
  • Shannon?  It was kind of a good thing Gerald Wallace sucked more than you did.  Unfortunately for you, no one cared about him going in.  With Kobe out of the All-Star Game, we were relying on you to make our weekend.
  • I hope the Lakers have Terrell Owens' Celebrity Game type of intensity in the 2nd Half.  That guy was out there D'ing up WNBA players like the DoberMamba.
  • I'm not scared of a possible trade of Amar'e Stoudamire.  I'm sure it would improve the Cavs offense, and make LeBron's penetration tougher to defend.  But dude is a sift on defense.  Andrew and Pau own him on both ends of the floor.  Plus, Amare and LeBron would dispel the myth that LeBron has inferior talent around him.  No more excuses. 

    This possible trade only worries me if Big Z would get bought out by PHX, then re-signs with Cleveland.  Just a little.  We're still the best team.
  • Did anyone else half expect LeBron to come out dancing during Alicia Keys' performance of "Empire State of Mind?" 
  • Shaq's problems with Dwight Howard over the "Superman" moniker are silly, but he does have a point.  It did belong to Shaq first.  He had a huge bed in the Superman logo shape, for goodness sakes.
  • How boring was Shakira?
  • Dallas was my pick to lose to us in the Western Conference Finals.  I'm liking that pick even more now that they made a trade for Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood
  • Everyone is waiting for the Celtics to get healthy.  I think they're as healthy as they're going to be, especially KG.  He seems healthy to me.  He just doesn't have it like he used to.  That's not likely to change.  It's just hard seeing this team turn it around.
  • More and more, the Celtics are becoming Rondo's team.  He's supposedly getting better, but since this has seemingly become his team, the C's have done nothing but struggle.  His improvements can't outweigh KG's decline.  The Celtics spent all summer trying to lower his price tag by trashing his name and exploring trades.  You heard reports of him clashing with teammates and opposing players.  This is the guy they have to rely on right now.  He's not good enough.  Nor is "best player in the world" and "one of the best shooters in history" Paul Pierce good enough to pick up the slack.  Unless a significant trade is made, I now have serious questions about them returning to the Finals.
  • It's apparent now, that Detroit's decline last year had everything to do with Rasheed Wallace.  It wasn't the situation of the team that made his play uninspired.  Rasheed's stale, and Detroit went stale because of him.  He just doesn't have it anymore.  Boston has him for 3 years, and KG's extension kicked in this year.  Don't forget Paul Pierce is due and extension.  Oh boy.
  • Speaking of Paul Pierce...What is he smoking?  "One of the Best shooters in history???"  He has some serious delusions of grandeur.  Remember when he claimed he was the "Best in the World" after the '08 Finals?  What a front runner. 
  • No matter what happens with Ray Allen this year, I think he ends up wherever LeBron signs next year.  Would you double LeBron to let Ray Allen have wide open looks?  Didn't think so.
  • "What's in that box? / That Box that rocks?"