ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Jeremy Evans of the UTah Jazz celebrates with his trophy after he won the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest part of 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 25, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Outside of the All Star Game on Sunday, few nights are as iconic as All-Star Saturday night. Who doesn't remember the legacies players made for themselves based upon great performances on Saturday night? Larry Bird's confidence in the three point contest; Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins going at one another in the dunk contest over a series of seasons in a row; Vince Carters amazing five dunk performance (360 windmill, out of bounds 180 windmill, elbow rim hang dunk, alley-oop between the legs, attempted foul line two-hander); and of course, the countless guys who defended their titles in the three point contest like Craig Hodges, Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek, and so on . . . these are guys who we remember and still talk about today. Some seasons All-Star Saturday night is the more impressive night as in the All-Star game it doesn't even get interesting until the third quarter.
Saturday night used to be for the stars to showcase their amazing talents; now it has streamed into super specialists doing their thing (with the exception of Paul George and Chase Budinger in the dunk contest, and Kevin Love in the three point contest -- and Love won). I like how they've really dragged out the night by adding more events and a billion Blake Griffin Kia commercials; but this last night was underwhelming.
The NBA-DL events appear to have been more 'pure' to what the NBA events used to symbolize. Team New York won the Haier Shooting Stars event, and while this event is fun -- it seems very forced to get a 'legend' and 'wnba player' from the same region to be on the team. The Orlando team took a WNBA player off of the Phoenix Mercury. That's reaching. Just make this a three person event with NBA players from a single team instead. Maybe force it to be one point guard, one wing, and one big?
San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge by messing up the least. Deron Williams looked like he was going to get his second trophy, but a number of miscues by the field made it very easy for Tony. He didn't win so much as the rest of the group did poorly when it counted. Which doesn't mean the format needs to change, it just means that this year it wasn't that exciting outside of the number of 'playoffs'.
There were a lot of ties in the Foot Locker Three point contest as well; which made this event go on longer than usual. Again, Kevin Love won this contest by having the guys he was up against do poorly (James Jones didn't defend his title); not that he went out and had an amazing individual effort. That seems to be the theme of the night as, well, Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans won the Sprite Slam Dunk contest in a very similar way. These guys only had three dunks to show off, and he made two of them on his first attempt; and one of them on his second attempt. The dunk qualities were, outside of the two ball alley oop, less than I expected of him. But that's my fault more than his. I can't fault him for me having misplaced expectations after the dude had 4 days to figure this stuff out.
In the end, Parker won because his competition goofed up. Love won because his competition kept bricking shots in a shooting contest. And Evans won because he was the only guy who didn't need a lot of chances to make his dunks.
This wasn't an All-Star Saturday Night for the ages, but it wasn't the worst one either. Last night the individual contest winners were crowned despite not impressing; and the dunk contest did not bring the house down. By themselves you could live with one of the contests being a bore -- but all three failed to impress. This wasn't Bird shooting the lights out, or Craig Hodges being a threat to break 20+. This was Kevin Love winning with 16. This wasn't Deron Williams setting the All-Time record in the skills obstacle course on rival Chris Paul's home court, this was Tony Parker benefiting from others' mistakes. And this wasn't Vince or Nique throwing down windmill after windmill on their first try. This was Jeremy Evans making his dunks when the rest of the field did not. It wasn't the best All-Star Saturday Night, but it's better than an NBA Lockout.