Top five memories from 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend

If you watched the dunk contest on Saturday evening then you know damn well what Ross was talking about.

The statement above was exactly what Toronto’s rookie put into action, as he donned a throwback Vince Carter Raptors jersey to pay homage to one of the greatest dunkers of all time (38 second mark below) and performed a through-the-legs dunk over a ball boy (55 second mark, and we’ll give Ross credit for being original in this aspect) :

Ross is an up-and-coming rookie who, until Saturday evening, was probably overlooked by the casual fan.

What does Ross want these people to know about his game?

“I have an all-around game,” he said. “I can finish at the rim, play defense and shoot the ball at the same time. There’s a lot more to my game than dunking.”

Showtime / overall talent in Houston: Before this past weekend, I’d never been to an All-Star game.

You see the hordes of reporters surrounding the All-Stars.

You see the celebrities – Drake, P. Diddy, Jay-Z – posted up courtside, relaxing and taking in these events until it’s time to party later on in the evening.

You see the groupies walking around the streets and hotel lobbies trying to get a glimpse of NBA / celebrity life.

You knew this was coming, but it hits you anyway…

This All-Star Game thing… It ain’t about the game on Sunday night.

For the league, it’s all about the NBA brand. It’s about showcasing the best basketball has to offer during primetime hours. It’s about growing a fan base and milking the limelight for all it’s worth.

If you’re a player who’s involved, it’s about getting to soak up this lifestyle. It’s about enjoying some time off (though these guys never stop moving) and having some fun. It’s about promotions and endorsements and, quite frankly, living a dream that they’ve worked very hard to achieve.

That being said, the magnifying glass of the weekend helps you to appreciate how amazing the overall talent is in this game.

A guy like Brook Lopez – a very good player in normal games – is rendered almost completely useless because of the All-Star environment.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Jrue Holiday are on the back burner. David Lee is left to make hustle plays and to dunk a few times.

And the biggest stars shine the brightest, which is what this weekend is all about.

The Dunk Contest NEEDS to change: I hate to make this a bullet point in what is supposed to be positive memories, but I had to list this as one of the top memories from the weekend, even though it’s negative, because it is nonetheless a memory that I’ll take with me.

Despite the last minute attempt from Jeremy Evans and Terrence Ross to save the contest from being blasted, the slam dunk contest is clearly in need of reform.

Tim Floyd from Deadspin has a brief summary that encapsulates the contest’s woes quite well:

It’s no secret the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest has sucked for years. With a lack of actual All-Stars competing in what is supposedly part of the league’s All-Star Weekend, only spectacular performances from the NBA’s lesser-known players could save it from being a complete disaster. No such performances were to be found. While the dunks that did find the basket weren’t terrible, far more attempts were aborted or failed entirely. Here are all of those attempts. [TNT]

Update: The Tallahassee Democrat‘s Corey Clark notes that since there were 36 missed dunks and only 15 successful ones the competitors managed to shoot less than 30 percent from the field in a slam dunk contest.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I have all the answers to make this thing run more smoothly, but here are a few aspects of the contest that every fan around the globe would probably agree have to improve upon for this contest to have any chance at becoming as relevant as it’s been in the past:

  • More star power –  How? The league should provide a plentiful donation – $100,000? – to a charity of the winners’ choosing. This would (hopefully) pressure more stars to compete in the contest.
  • Penalties for misses – Something’s got to be done about this. As noted above, there was a success rate of 30%. Now I know these aren’t  typical dunks that players work on all the time, but this thing has to run smoother and not cause viewers to want to change the channel or stop paying attention.
  • Scrap the East vs. West format – It’s a way to make All-Star Saturday night more competitive and to help donate to charity, but in the end it’s gimmicky because unless we’re talking about Tupac and Biggie in the 90’s, I don’t think anybody cares whether the East or West wins the Saturday night title. Besides, the donation the league makes to the dunk contest winners’ charity should delete the need for a charity donation. This is an individual competition and should be treated as such.

Am I a die hard dunk contest fan? Not even close.

But if the league is going to have an All-Star weekend to promote the game of basketball, shouldn’t they put on the best show they possibly can?

The dunk contest is a way to grow the game, to create positive memories for fans all around the world to reflect back on throughout their basketball fan career.

For the most part, fans were disappointed with the contest that took place this weekend.

If the NBA is smart, they’ll try much harder to give people the memories they’d love to have.

Jeremy Bauman is an aspiring shooting coach and scout who writes columns and blogs for Follow him on Twitter.