Change is good — sometimes. In the case of the NBA’s changes to All-Star Saturday, well we will have to take it with a grain of salt.
The MBA All-Star weekend is one of my favorite times of the year. Every year the NBA does a great job of showcasing all of its stars in numerous competitions that do a great job of entertaining the viewers.
One of the biggest parts of the weekend is the All-Star Saturday where the NBA holds its Shooting Stars contest, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Dunk Contest. This year the NBA made adjustments in nearly every event with the aim of making the night more memorable. Some of these changes were good.
The entire night was a competition between Eastern Conference players and Western Conference players. For every event won that conference earned $100,000 that was donated to charity while the losing team still earned $25,000. At the end of the night both conferences were able to earn $250,000 respectively.
The idea of having the conferences battle in every event is nice. On top of that, it is nice to see the teams earn money to donate to charity as well. So far, this change is good.
The Skill Challenge is an event that was always a solo event until this year. But now the NBA decided to make it a two-man relay. It is essentially the same challenge as years before, but now it requires a teammate and some form of collaboration. The West’s Trey Burke and Damian Lillard won this contest by a tenth of a second. This was another good change, having a partner makes it more engaging for the audience and adds a new level of difficulty.
I often wondered what they could do to the Three-Point Contest to make it better — I was never able to think of anything. But this year the NBA allowed each player to have a rack of strictly money balls (five balls worth two points each). Along with that the players got to choose where they wanted to place the money ball rack.
This is a phenomenal idea. It made the competition way more exciting and also added an element of strategy to a contest that has always been extremely simple — shoot the ball. The West’s Marco Belinelli defeated the East’s Bradley Beal in the Championship Round Tiebreaker. Another fun change for the NBA All-Star Saturday.
Last, but not least, was the Slam Dunk Contest. The event that everyone has been dying to see. Every year we see the names of the NBA players who are going to compete and every year we wonder why LeBron James and Blake Griffin aren’t going head-to-head.
This year there were a multitude of changes in the dunk contest. It started with three players from each conference squaring off with one another in a freestyle round where each team had 90 seconds to get as many dunks in as possible (each player had to complete at least one). The winner of that round then got to choose the order for the brand new “battle round,” where one of the three East players battled against one of the three West Players.
But the epic conclusion came at the end when the East won the contest, going 3-for-3 in the battle round. The Eastern Conference then won the dunk contest as John Wall won “Dunker of the Night.”
Okay, I have a lot of issues with this. To start, the freestyle round seemed rushed and totally out of sync. The great thing about dunk contests in the past was the anticipation for each individual dunk — we didn’t get that this year.
But even worse than that was the ending. Determining the East as “winners” rather than having a single winner in the dunk contest, are you kidding me?
I like the battle round, but once one of the conferences eliminates the other let’s see the remaining players square off against each other in a classic final round to determine a single winner.
All in all the NBA All-Star Saturday was still fun, but it ended poorly as all of the commentators had absolutely no idea what was happening with the dunk contest. They were not alone on that. I don’t mind some of the changes, but there are still many adjustments that need to be made.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.