NBA All-Star Saturday Night was a blast this year. While the events may not have been the most exciting individually, each one added something unique to the evening. The Cavs brought home the Skill challenge trophies with their inspiring teamwork; Karl-Anthony Towns represented the big men and became the first center to win the three-point contest, and Obi Toppin took the slam dunk title back to New York City.
We all have our opinions of All-Star weekend each year, but the festivities surrounding Saturday night are undoubtedly why fans and entertainers show up. Yes, it was a fun evening filled with over-the-top commentary and musical performances to boot. Sunday’s game will likely be another And 1 circuit-type throwback game where no one dares utter the word “defense” and guys are tossing alley-oops to themselves off the backboard on fast breaks.
During the dunk contest, the conversation was broached by Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith of TNT about changing the order of the Saturday night events. The order isn’t a huge issue right now, but I can see Miller’s side of the argument. Miller says the 3-point contest should be the main event of the evening, closing the show. Of course Smith, being quite the talented dunker back in his day, disagreed with Miller’s sentiment.
The dunk contest seems to go through peaks and valleys where it’s really good for two to three years, then it hits a dry spell where it’s mediocre for a couple of years. A good indicator of how awesome a dunk contest is each year is the crowd in attendance. The fans in Cleveland wanted to get into it, but there were too many starts and abrupt stops early in the competition, and I think the crowd got restless. The creativity may have lacked a bit also in this year’s contest. All the dunk’s that would have blown the lid off Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse were either bobbled during the attempt or rejected by the rim.
Since the dunk contest can be unpredictable from year to year, I think a rotation of which individual competition closes the night could be an excellent change to the overall event. So even a simple change like sandwiching the Skill challenge between the 3-point and dunk contests might be enough.
One year the dunk contest closes, then the next, the 3-point contest closes the show. Or since the three-point competition usually has more stars competing in this era, let it close out the show the next couple of years and see how it works. Then you’d open with the dunk contest and hopefully get the crowd hyped and then cool them down a bit with the Skill Challenge.
The 3-point shootout featured established stars like KAT (winner), Trae Young, and Zach LaVine. That contest could easily close out the night and probably have been more enthralling than this year’s dunk contest. Meanwhile, the dunk contest usually features players looking to become stars like Toppin, Cole Anthony, Jalen Green, and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The crowd just never got into this year’s dunk competition. It could be a different story in 2023, but a reshuffling of events couldn’t hurt.