The All Star festivities for the NBA are legendary. If you're old enough or NBA-nerdy enough to remember the famous, world-changing Michael Jordan dunk of 1988, or any of the Slam Dunk Contest moments for that matter - Vince Cart, Spud Webb, Dominique Wilkins, Dee Brown, Zach LaVine - you understand this is the single best "All Star" event in any major sport. There is also the skills competition and the three-point contest, rookie-sophomore game, celebrity events, and coordinated sneaker releases from Nike, adidas and Under Armour. Oh yeah, there is the All Star game itself.
Like all businesses, the NBA has revised their product numerous times in an effort to successfully market their showcase event. Trying to draw in more demographics and make the weekend itself a spectacle that helps them generate hype and revenue has caused them to revise formats for competitions, eliminate and introduce different events and promotions and then try to figure out who should play in the games and who should coach the games.
For Jabari Mode, we looked at a few topics around the event to see how we feel about the NBAs efforts to create the best product possible. Let's hear what JP, Tyler and Zach had to say...
1. Who is the one player you're most excited to watch in the All-Star Game?
Tyler: I'm an average fan with average intelligence. I don't really care about plus-minus or points per 100 possessions. That being said, I just want to see Steph Curry. I don't even like him that much, but I want to see him hitting like 10 threes in five minutes. I want to see him sitting on the bench with that towel on his head with that cocky/confident smile, while Draymond passes him an imaginary joint...oh wait...god, wouldn't it be funny if Pop ended up sitting some of his players the entire game? I want to see that too.
Zach: Same as the last game I went to see, KOBE. We've all seen these players do incredible things, but watching most of these players interacting with THE MAN most of them idolized growing up is always a blast. And we know KOBE won't be afraid to shoot no matter who's guarding him. The ultimate star in his last All-Star game.
JP: I'm excited to watch Steph Curry. I hope he puts on a three point exhibition. Wherever he catches it, he has to shoot the ball. Then I want the benches to do celebratory moves like the Monmouth men's college basketball team. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Monmouth's bench please do and enjoy!! Hahaha.
Daniel: Russell Westbrook. Dude is la flame right now. Wasn't it last season around mid-January that Westbrook went nuclear and here he is doing it again. It's also a notable player to watch because he plays nasty and reckless and can't like being sandwiched into the insane guard rotation of the West with Curry, Chris Paul, himself, Kobe, and Klay Thompson.
2. How do you feel about Kobe getting the start?
Tyler: Kobe deserves the start. He deserves to get the ball every play, and he deserves to get the MVP. He's the last of his kind (Russel Westbrook is close) and I am going to miss hating him. Curry is going to have to be okay with Kobe getting the MVP chants for a change.
Zach: Love it, duh. If only you could make it better..
JP: I absolutely love it. The man is going down as one of the best ever to play the game, enough said. What I hope doesn't happen is Kobe hits a shot to lead with 3 seconds left, and the game keeps going. Thanks a lot, Jermaine O'Neal.
Daniel: Hated Kobe when I was younger and hating players seemed rational. Now, I am older and, hopefully, wiser. Kobe is one of the last gunfighters we may ever see. He's certifiably a crazy person when on an NBA court and all he wants to do is beat whoever is in his way. This is what superstar exhibitions are all about. One last time, let's embrace the power of the Black Mamba.
3. Which player matchup do you most want to see?
Tyler: I want to see some lock down defense from Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard. Other than that, I will be interested in seeing any match up against Curry. Over/under Curry scores 30? In the first half?
Zach: KOBE vs Wade!!!!! Oh, you mean KOBE can go against fellow old man Wade in the last match up of greatest 2 guard post-Jordan/pre-Curry era. Yes!!!! If you didn't love KOBE, you loved Wade. Ask Shaq. Again, this game isn't serious, so let's watch these two giants of the era battle it out. And let the young stars show their respect. And they won't embarrass each other.
JP: Damn! The match up I want to see will not happen in this NBA All Star Game: Curry against Westbrook. So I will have to go with my second favorite; that would be Kobe verses who ever is on the floor for the East. Kobe will take them on one-on-one at both ends of the floor.
Daniel: If there is any possibility that I can get DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James going at each other, please make it so. If that is too much to ask, I'd settle for Isaiah Thomas and Chris Paul. Either way, it would be fun to see some competitive and scrappy guys getting after players who hate being challenged in an exhibition, pre-season, regular season, playoff game or anywhere else.
4. Do you like the Rising Stars Challenge? What about the "U.S. vs. World" Format?
Tyler: I do not like the rising star challenge or the U.S. vs the World format. It's boring and nobody cares. What about a competitive game of 3-on-3 ? It wouldn't have to be WEST vs EAST either. I would watch that. I get super excited about HGTV, so what do I know. Bye.
Zach: As a Bucks fan, this is normally my favorite game. And I was getting really excited for it this year; thoughts of Jabari, Wiggins, KAT & Mudiay on the floor together. Elfrid Payton's hair back in my life for another night. But then I got to the end of the roster and NO BOBAN. WHAT?!?!? HES A UNICORN AS EQUALLY AS BEAUTIFUL AS KRISTAPS!!!! WHERE IS HE?!?!??
JP: I'm sorry, personally I dislike the Rising Stars Challenge. I could be wrong with this format. I just feel the guys playing this game could care less and it shows. I would like the Rising Stars, Celebrity game, Shooting Stars, all be gone and do a one-on-one tourney challenge.
Daniel: It's trash. Karl-Anthony Towns should be an All Star. Kristaps Porzingis maybe, too. I may not have a solid case for those players to be in the main event over the players selected, but I certainly won't be watching this game and can't remember the last time I did.
5. The Spurs and Warriors are playing basketball as art form. Which team has the better chance of matching the 1996 Chicago Bulls 72-10 record? Will they beat it?
Tyler: It's getting harder and harder to bet against the Warriors. They are making teams panic and fire their coaches. They are beating teams by half time. Most nights, Steph Curry is taking a nap by the 4th quarter. It's ridiculous and I hate it, but dammit, it's beautiful. If they stay healthy, they pass 72 wins, and I think they beat the 72-win Bulls in a series.
Zach: No. No. Jordan was the biggest asshole. Kerr and Pop will rest for playoffs because they are smart. Two great teams though!!!
JP: I don't see the Spurs matching or beating the record. Pop and that team could care less. Pop will rest his team. The Dubs will beat the Bulls record, it's what they set out to do since game one of the season. Half the team could rest and still execute also compete, at a higher level than 95% of the league.
Daniel: The Spurs dropped a few games heading into the break, so now they are something like 41-8. It's unlikely that they only lose two games the rest of the year, particularly since Pop could care less about regular season win records. The Warriors are scary good and probably could match or beat the 1996 Bulls record. I'm not sure they'll get it done, but I doubt I'll see another team come this close for another decade or two.