Hubbard: NBA All-Star Week — Just Go With It

If you’re looking for a way to capture the quality of NBA All-Star Week, think Adam Sandler movies. They are meant to be entertaining. They are hectic, foolish and sometimes embarrassing. The critics hate them.

And the fans love them.

Take a look at the web site and find Adam Sandler movies, whether it’s as a writer, producer or star. By my count, 39 of them have been rated by critics. Of those 39, 34 of the reviews have been negative.

Safe to say Adam will not be polishing that speech for the Oscars.

But then look at how those movies were received by fans. The 2010 movie “Grown Ups” had an approval rating of 9 percent. Yes, 9 percent.

And it grossed $162 million.

I’m sure it’s to the point that when Sandler makes a movie, part of his approach is to think what critics will not like. If negative reviews translate into box office success, well let the rip jobs begin. Bring it on and, yes, we do accept debit cards.

Unlike many years ago, NBA All-Star Week neither represents nor promises greatness. Let’s go back 25 years, for example, and look at the Slam Dunk Contest participants. There were two young players who were touted leapers – Greg (Cadillac) Anderson and Otis Smith – and, of course, they had no shot at winning.

Spud Webb, the greatest walking 5-6 pogo stick in NBA history – and winner of the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest – also had no shot because he had won his one event.

There was a solid forward named Jerome Kersey, who started for a Portland team that would go to the 1992 NBA Finals and who was having his best season. Kersey averaged 19.2 points that season. He had a slight chance.

But only slight because there were three of the best players in the league in the contest: Michael Jordan (the eventual winner), Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler. During that 1987-88 season, Jordan led the NBA with 35.0 points. Wilkins finished second at 30.7 and Drexler fourth at 27.2. There was never another contest with three players of that stature.

Compare that to this season. The six participants – Gerald Green, Terrence Ross, James White, Eric Bledsoe, Jeremy Evans and Kenneth Faried – average a combined 38.6 points. And that’s only because Faried averages 12.2 points. In the glamour event of All-Star Saturday, there is not much glamour.

Every year, there is a cry for the great players to participate. Dwight Howard has been in three Slam Dunk Contests, so he’s done his job. Blake Griffin won the event two years ago, so that was fun to watch.

But players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have never been in the event.

And they never will for reasons that are all too obvious. First of all, if James were to compete and lose, his brand would take a hit — even though one colleague at this site is pushing for him to participate. There is little doubt that Jordan had a brand in the 1980s, but there were other factors that led for him to participate.

One is that he was growing his brand and wanted to make it bigger. Jordan was not like James, who signed a reported $90 million contract with Nike before playing his first game. Jordan was wealthy by the late 1980s, but it was still good business for him to perform on a world stage on All-Star Saturday.


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