Dubbed “Black Thanksgiving” by ESPN personality Michael Wilbon, NBA all-star weekend has transformed into the most popular of the four major all-star games. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement though. theGrio came up with 10 ways to spice up an already great event.
1) Increase the stakes for the Slam Dunk Contest
Want to get the attention of the NBA’s best dunkers? Show them the money. Millionaires aren’t going to get excited about the possibility of winning $35,000. Instead, the NBA should give away $1 million to the winner — $500,000 to the participant and $500,000 to the participant’s favorite charity. LeBron James might have a change of heart if he knew that he wasn’t walking away with pocket change at the end of all-star weekend. And we all know how much he loves donating to the Boys & Girls Club.
2) No more Nate Robinson in the Slam Dunk Contest.
We get it. You’re short. You can dunk. Got it.
3) Amateur vs. NBA slam-dunk showdown
The top four amateur dunkers from across the country are competing for $10,000 in the “Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown.” Along with the money, the winner of the contest should have the opportunity to face-off against the winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in a battle to see who the best dunker in the world really is. Blake Griffin has nothing on Haneef “Young Hollywood” Munir.
4) Increase the rosters from 12 to 15
There’s a list of snubs every season for the NBA All-Star Game, but this year had two noticeable names in forwards Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. While Love replaced Yao Ming’s spot on the Western Conference, there was no room for Aldridge and his 22 points per game. Finding time for 15 players won’t be as hard as you might think. Veterans like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett would enjoy less playing time.
5) All big man Three-Point Contest
In the history of the NBA Three-Point Contest, three players 6-foot-9 or taller have won. Why not honor three-time winner and NBA legend Larry Bird and select eight big men 6-foot-9 or taller to participate in the shootout? How does Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari, Ryan Anderson, Dorell Wright, Al Harrington, Kevin Durant, and Channing Frye sound?
6) Lose the hideous jerseys and play in the team outfits
I know why the NBA and Adidas create those gaudy all-star jerseys each year — it’s an easy and obvious money grab as fans are willing to shell out dollars during All-Star Weekend. Unless Adidas plans to go back to the red and white jerseys from the ‘80s, suit the guys up in their regular jerseys. Four Celtic green jerseys running alongside one lone center dressed in Magic blue would emphasize how impressive Boston’s Big Four really is.
7) Go back to the scene of the crime: Las Vegas
We all know about the stories of shootings and violence that were a result of the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas. But depending on who you talk to, the shenanigans might have been overblown a tad. If presented with a second chance, I’m sure the city of Las Vegas and Mayor Oscar Goodman would bring their “A” game. Plus, let’s be real — Las Vegas + NBA = Heaven.
8) Legends 2-2 games
The most entertaining part of the Haier Shooting Stars is watching the legends fire 22-feet jump shots, well past the age of 40. After seven years, the allure of watching WNBA players attempt half-court shots is long gone. Why not pair the legend with the current NBA superstar and have them compete in a 2-on-2 half-court game — first to 21 wins.
9) USA vs. The World
With basketball exploding overseas, the skill level between the best players in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world is closing fast. We have seen what the U.S. Olympic Team can do against individual countries, but how would they fare against a super team of overseas players? A starting lineup of Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan would give the U.S. squad a run for their money.
10) Take a page from the NHL and select captains
But if NBA commissioner David Stern isn’t down with my U.S. vs. The World idea, he really should really take a page from the NHL’s book and implement a fantasy draft. The highest-vote getters from the Eastern and Western Conference would be the team captains and would take turns selecting players from the pool of all-stars. Not only would it be a ratings winner for the NBA, it would inject a new level of suspense during All-Star Weekend.