Ratings seem to be growing but the product is on the decline in terms of All-Star weekend in the NBA. I am not sure what that says about things. I was surprised to learn that All-Star Saturday Night had it's second best ratings number in it's history. It featured the worst dunk contest in history and had all the typical sponsor driven garbage we have come to expect/accept. I fight with the idea that I am starting to feel like an old man talking about the good old days. But honestly, to compare All-Star Weekends of the past to this one it seems pretty obvious to me. The game itself was decent and you ended up with Kevin Durant as it's MVP. You had Lebron James in the running and putting down dunks better than the contest the night before.
I use to be the biggest defender of NBA All-Star Weekend as the best in pro sports. I would not be able to do that now if you paid me to do so. It has become a watered down, advertising driven side show. The NFL has talked about doing away with their Pro Bowl altogether. Football by far is the toughest sport to fit into this whole All-Star concept. The NBA fits much better in the sense players do eventually get around to playing the game to win. It takes awhile but they eventually do. Still the events surrounding the All-Star game have just been awful at the top of that list is the Dunk Contest.
Lebron James promised to enter a few years ago but still has not entered. Back in the old days you had actual All-Stars taking part in the Slam Dunk Contest. Why he refuses to enter speaks to the difference between the modern athlete and the athletes of the past. The fear of what can go wrong, instead of what can go right, rules the day now. Wilkens and Jordan never worried about it when they went head to head. They also never had 4 and 5 chances to throw down dunks. There was no glowing oufits, child actors, random things to jump over from P-Diddy to Kia car. (NBA Sponsor) It is just a side show with guys that for casual NBA Fans are unknown.
Not to mention the desire to cash in on it by having voting by through mobile devices. Which at the end of the day leads to suspect vote counting at best. Wrestling fan's will recall an event called Cyber Sunday. For those not wrestling fans it was a supposed fan driven event that allowed fans to book the various matches to a degree in a PPV. Not shockingly the WWE would influence and likely flat out manipulate the results while profiting from the voting itself. If you believe the voting on that or the NBA Slam Dunk Contest is on the level....Well I would also think you believe in the Tooth Fairy. There is a reason that we are not having elections online yet. It is far to easy to manipulate or fudge results all together.
I also use to be a strong supporter of Toronto hosting an NBA All-Star Weekend. I still am, to the point it is a great thing for the city and the country. However, by the time it gets here, if it does, I hope it isn't the same junk I saw this weekend. The game itself on Sunday is still pretty much the same. All of the stuff around it needs a complete makeover. Instead of making me more excited for the game on Sunday it made me care less about the game on Sunday.
The unfortunate thing is people watched and that will make the NBA less inclined to feel they need to change much. People seem willing to accept this kind of second rate garbage. The NBA once ended the Slam Dunk Contest for a time and maybe the time has come to do it again, if they can not compel the true stars to compete in it. I just have got sick of the side show entertainment element of All-Star Weekend. More than ever for the true fans of basketball the NBA ALL-Star Weekend has become less relevant. The weekend itself will always draw a crowd because of the collection of the NBA's best players, all being in the same place, at the same time. However, the actual product that is broadcast to the world at large is lacking and becoming more of a joke every year. If the All-Star Weekend stopped existing I wouldn't miss it. That is not likely to happen because there is to much money to be made from it. How long that remains the case is anyone's guess. Maybe people will just keep watching no matter what the NBA throws at them and just accepts it. Oh well if that is what people want to accept who am I too say no to that? Still, it seems clear to me that the best All-Star Moments I have seen will live in my memory and not my future.