In my opinion, the number one reason the NBA All-Star weekend has been struggling lately is due to the disappointments, on all levels. Players don’t try, favorites rarely win, dunks don’t live up to the hype, and shooters seem to never show up. While hype can (and is) usually built through social media and TV networks leading up to the event, we rarely see any predictions or stars follow through and amaze us.
2. Lack of effort
As mentioned briefly above, lack of effort is a major problem during All-Star weekend. Hardly do you see players giving their best effort or even remotely trying to win any competition. For instance, I was watching today during the Skills Challenge (essentially a dribbling/passing/shooting course for guards) and I would say 90% of the players were jogging around, hardly giving any effort. One player in particular, Reggie Jackson of the OKC Thunder, was moving a shade over walking speed while doing the course, and all I could think was “C’MON MAN!” While this is technically a midway break from the season for most players, it would be nice to see them go full speed, especially for events that last 30 or so seconds…
3. Lack of participation
This is another big issue. The key events that have generally been exciting and superstar filled (dunk contest/3pt shootout) are now being performed by marginally known players and hardly any superstars. While I will give the 3pt shootout a break, since it usually does have the games top shooters (except Kyle Korver this year…), I can make no such excuse for the dunk contest. Rewind a decade or so and you had the likes of Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Jason Richardson, Steve Francis, etc., performing and enjoying this event while also displaying genuine creativity and athleticism. Then look at today, a bunch of mediocre dunkers performing ok dunks with the occasional get-off-your-seat slam.
4. Lack of personalities
This is another issue that I didn’t really notice until this past year, we really don’t have many great personalities. While LeBron James, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul bring some personality, the rest of the upcoming stars are very mild mannered. When you take a look at say, Kevin Durant and Paul George, you see some great players with personalities, but both just have a “chill” attitude. Neither of them will be seen pulling off entertainment stunts such as this gem from Shaq a few years back.
This is the inevitable. Players are bound to get hurt. Year after year we move closer to All-Star weekend and 2-3 key players have to miss out, with this year being Kobe Bryant and (potentially) Dwayne Wade. While injuries are not an avoidable reason like some of the points mentioned above, they definitely add to the dullness of the weekend. Although, in all fairness, I should say that in some cases we do get to see young stars and snubs get their chance to rightfully perform (i.e. Anthony Davis).