Tuesday, February 03, 2009

All-Star Weekend Reform

OK, All-Star Weekend reform is the topic of the day. Many thanks to a couple of our colleagues in the TrueHoop Network - Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game for coming up with the idea, and Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm for getting us organized. Rob did a great job of corralling and editing all of the All-Star Weekend reform opinions from us Abbottites in the TrueHoop Network over at Two Man Game - check it out.

We had fun compiling our ideas on the topic, most of which Rob incorporated into the piece - for the record, here are The Painted Area's complete thoughts for our ideal All-Star Weekend program:

Do nothing to the game itself. It's the best All-Star Game in sports. It's three quarters of entertaining highlights, and then, if it's close, an often-exhilarating fourth quarter with all the best players on the floor, as it was last season.

The voting system seems perilously close to disaster, but we don't have any good answers there.

One enduring difficulty with the dunk contest currently is that, at this point, it's hard to top the dunks of the past. To alleviate that pressure, alternate between the "Artistic" competition and the "High Dunk" competition (which we agree with others would be great fun) on an annual basis. We think the every-other-year scarcity would help make both competitions more special.

To reform the "Artistic" competition itself, turn it into more of a figure-skating model (let us explain, please), where the competitors get a certain time period - 2 minutes or 4 minutes or whatever - to put together a program of dunks.

This encourages spectacular attempts because a single miss would be less penalized (and boring makes would not really be useful, as they often are for strategic reasons), yet you couldn't just miss 72 times and still win the competition like Nate Robinson.

Not sure if it should be one round or two rounds, just go from there. I think that bumping the prize money way up to $1M or so would boost interest, as well.

[We also like Paul Forrester's idea of having some ESPY-style awards honoring the best plays of the year - Best Dunk, Best Block, Best Pass, Best Buzzer Beater, Best Circus Shot. Perhaps it's best of the previous calendar year, with "nominations" announced in January, and voted on after the All-Star balloting itself closes.]

No changes needed - straightforward and classic.

Love the idea of replacing the Skills Competition with this, as suggested by Cavs The Blog. How about these rules: Set up 3 baskets across each baseline. Players race to be the first to go down and back 3 times, converting a basket each time. Time penalties for violations. 3 heats of 3 players apiece - top 3 advance to the final.

With or without layups, it's a huge improvement over the current Skills Competition b/c the time record would be much more tangible, and something that young fans could conceivably do to see how they compare to the pros.

And it's just more tangible in general - "Who's the fastest player with the ball?" is a question that is debated, and something that resonates in a way that the Skills Competition simply does not.

Also love the idea of including big men - could have separate competitions by height: 6-4 and under, 6-5 to 6-9, and 6-10 and above. Tell me you wouldn't have wanted to see Shaq, Hakeem and the Admiral compete in this one in their primes.

We doubt this would fly, but we think it would be entertaining to have a quick ballhandling competition as an interlude, similar to the old Nike Freestyle ads (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cgc91Gf0zw) or And1 mixtapes.

Competition would consist of small teams of non-NBA players who would perhaps qualify by submitting short videos which are voted on online. Might be hard to execute on a bunch of different fronts, might not be that entertaining live, as opposed to something that could be produced, who knows, but most everyone seemed to enjoy that Nike campaign.

As described by Bill Simmons a few years ago: "Two teammates have two minutes to make as many half-court shots as possible. None of them can launch one until the previous shot has hit the rim. Highest total wins."

(Note: We think that H-O-R-S-E and 1-on-1 might be more tedious in reality than they might seem.)

We were about to say "No changes", not b/c we don't think they're needed - this game devolves more than any other event at ASW, in our opinion - but b/c we didn't have any bright ideas. But then we saw Knickerblogger's idea of a Rookie vs. D-League game - wow, fantastic idea. Absolutely no downside. Huge increase in the game's intensity. People get a good look at the rooks, and I don't think they'd miss the sophs (much less of a curiosity factor). Meanwhile, the D-League gets great promotion, and it deserves to be a full-fledged minor league. If any of our cockamamie ideas truly deserve to be instituted, it's this.