1. Keep the Rising Stars game and three point contest as is.
Every year people act surprised that the most entertaining event of All-Star Weekend was the Rising Stars game (née Rookie/Sophomore game), but it’s time fans start appreciating what we have. In an era of terrible dunk contests (more on that later), the Rising Stars game is consistently great. Players are just the right amount of intense about it, but it still has the potential to devolve into an impromptu dunk contest at any moment. Throw in the twist they added last year of Charles Barkley and Shaq picking teams, and you have one of the best All-Star events in all of sports.
As for the three-point contest, it’s simple and wonderful. It’s not the best event, but it’ll never be the worst. It stays as is.
2. Get rid of the skills challenge and create a “crossover battle” event.
The most talked about moment of All-Star weekend happened in the Rising Stars game (natch), when Kyrie Irving destroyed Brandon Knight’s ankles with some killer dribbling. Why is this not a full event? I imagine it could work something like this:
• The NBA’s four best dribblers are our competitors.
• They are split into two “semi-final” matches.
• Each match consists of five “innings.”
• The players will flip a coin to see who gets “last ups.”
• Each “inning” consists of an offensive player being guarded for the length of the court until he takes a shot.
• If the offensive player scores, he gets the points for the basket: 2 or 3 points (depending on the shot).
• If the defender falls down, the offensive player gets 8 points.
• If the defensive player gets a steal, he gets 2 points.
• If the defensive player gets a block, he gets 1 point.
• No posting up will be allowed.
• The winners of the two semi-finals matches will face off in the championship.
Imagine if this year we had Kyrie Irving vs. Steph Curry and Tony Parker vs. Chris Paul in the semis. Kyrie probably takes down Steph Curry, though not until Curry lands some incredible fallaway threes. And CP3 would probably take down Tony Parker, though it’d be quite a matchup. Then we’d have an epic Kyrie/CP3 ankle-breaking showdown. That sounds like basketball heaven.
There could even be an old-timers’ crossover battle for retired players who still have stylish moves but are too old to make it in the NBA. The semis could be Isiah Thomas vs. Gary Payton and Tim Hardaway vs. Deron Williams.
This can replace the skills contest, because no one likes that, because it sucks, because it’s boring.
3. Simplify the dunk contest.
The dunk contest is losing prominence. Let’s just face it. It’s never going to be Jordan and Nique again. So let’s stop trying to jazz it up with Twitter voting and team play, just make it simple and let it be what it is:
• Six competitors.
• Three rounds.
• A panel of judges score the whole contest (not just the first round).
• First round: two dunks. Lowest two aggregate scores get eliminated.
• Second round: two dunks. Lowest two aggregate scores get eliminated.
• Final round: two dunks. Lowest aggregate score gets eliminated.
• Forget the time limit for each dunk. Participants are only allowed three attempts per dunk.
• Props can be used, but judges can take off points for their use if they think it’s gimmicky.
• No “host.” The broadcast crew is amazing, but if Kenny Smith or Nick Cannon start walking around at midcourt with a microphone they should be tackled.
That’s it. If we have bad competitors, we have bad competitors. But the format’s not the problem. Now about those competitors…
4. But bring in non-NBA dunk legends to compete with the pros.
Here we go! The NBA should bring in two competitors each year who are non-pros, but rather “Dunk Stars.” YouTube favorites like Kenny Dobbs who do things like the above or this:
Bringing in a couple of amateurs who consistently do better dunks than their pro counterparts will push the NBA guys to find something creative to avoid humiliation. And if a non-pro wins, the worst team in the league has to pick him up for a 10-day contract. Who wouldn’t go nuts cheering for Kenny Dobbs to make the Bobcats? Twitter would explode with excitement.
5. Make every player dress like these guys.
Because honestly, the NBA’s fashion sense has officially fallen off a cliff, and it’s hilarious. LeBron is wearing LEATHER SLEEVES. SLEEVES MADE OF LEATHER. It takes a certain, insane brand of obliviousness to think that’s cool. I just want more.
6. Get rid of free throws in the All-Star game, replace them with uncontested dunks.
I don’t want to oversell this, but this is a perfect idea. Who wants to watch NBA players shoot foul shots in the All-Star game? Nobody. Which is why so few fouls are called. But what if, instead of lining up to take a free throw, everyone cleared out and allowed the fouled player an uncontested dunk. BOOM. This gives us LeBron throwing down dunk contest-style dunks without him ever having to put his reputation on the line in the actual contest (which will never happen). You’re welcome, everyone in the world who likes cool things.
7. Add the craziest game of two-on-two ever played.
Okay, this is the least likely of all these ideas, but I want it to happen so badly that I had to include it.
Jordan and Dwight Howard.
LeBron and Shaq.
That sound you just heard is everyone’s brain exploding from the intensity of this idea’s awesomeness. Everyone wants to see LeBron and Jordan go at each other, but their age difference makes getting an entertaining game of one-on-one nearly impossible. LeBron’s just too quick and strong. He’ll be able to drive by Jordan whenever he wanted. BUT. If you make it two-on-two and add in the NBA’s premier help defender to Jordan’s side you get a much more interesting match-up. Then give Shaq to LeBron to even out the ages a bit and add in the Superman v. Superman subplot and you have the greatest hour of TV ever. Not only might Jordan murder Dwight if he didn’t take it seriously (which everyone would love), but we’d finally get to see the match-up we’ve always wanted. Jordan and LeBron. Let’s make Kobe ref just for the laughs.