Hello, girls and boys! Welcome to a special NBA All-Star Game edition of Hump Day Hot Takes.
Friday was the Celebrity Game and the Rising Stars Game. One gave us an epic block and the other the 2nd best dunk of the entire weekend.
Poor RAD. Quavo won MVP honors in absence of perennial Celebrity MVP Kevin Hart who was presumably too busy coming up with the 93-hour long intro to the actual All-Star Game Sunday Night.
In the Rising Stars Game, the World team trounced the USA team but the USA team was responsible for this:
Saturday Night gave us the trifecta of Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, and the Dunk Contest. All of them sucked. Spencer Dinwiddie won the Skills Challenge which is never really that exciting. The best part of this one was Joel Embiid somehow still having the tag on his shorts during his laughable run.
Devin Booker won the 3-Point Contest, which… yawn. The 3-Point may have once been relevant but since the NBA is a barrage of Three’s on any given night anymore it’s lost a lot of its appeal.
The only thing anyone really cares about on Saturday is the Dunk Contest. And this one… did not deliver. There were costume changes aplenty, lots of gimmicks, and MAJOR KEY BAD JUDGING. That’s right Khaled, I’m looking at you. Donavon Mitchell ended up winning but in my opinion, he was third at best.
DENNIS SMITH JR. HAD THE BEST DUNK OF THE WEEKEND
Yes, it took him 3 tries but I. Do. Not. Care. That was single-handedly the best dunk of the night. But he didn’t make the finals which I could argue with but I honestly can’t say Larry Nance Jr. or Donovan Mitchell deserved to make the final round any less than he did. I will say that Smith Jr.’s first dunk deserved more than the lowly 39 it got. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a 39 either. Once in the finals, Donovan Mitchell pulled off the Vince Carter dunk. You know, THAT ONE. The one that made the Diesel go all Bug-Eyed
I’m not going to show you Mitchell’s version because it doesn’t belong on the same screen at VC. It wasn’t as good as the original, and more importantly, it wasn’t creative. Putting on a throwback jersey and doing a throwback dunk shouldn’t win you the Dunk Contest. If that was the case, anyone with a brain would just put on a 23 and Jumpman tongue out from the free throw line. Larry Nance Jr. did something that was impossible to comprehend in real time and had the best slow burn reaction I’ve ever seen if a sporting event.
HE TAPPED IT TWICE. WHAT?!??!?!?! He was rewarded with a perfect 50 as he should’ve been but it should’ve raised the stakes for Mitchell, who should have gotten no more than 35 for his VC dunk. Yeah, I said it.
The main event. The question everyone had, would the new format deliver a better product than we had been getting the past few years. Largely, the answer would be yes. But we had to get there first. Sometimes, we here at Hot Takes like to really go out on a limb and saying something scorching hot. Well:
THE KEVIN HART/ROB RIGGLE INTRO SKIT WAS 100% WORSE THAN FERGIE’S ANTHEM
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll direct you to yesterday’s post on this here site by our very own Fearless Leader Justin. He does a very good job objectively dissecting the Anthem. My exception would be that while Jack Black’s Anthem is a damn good anthem, it’s at best 3rd. No. 2 goes to Stevie Wonder’s 2005 NBA Final’s rendition.
FUN FACT: I was in the Palace of Auburn Hills when this happened. I HEARD THIS LIVE. And I will never ever forget it. It’s the Yin to the Gallaraga Game’s Yang for my personal sporting experiences to this date. But I digress, the GOAT Basketball anthem is this one:
And honestly, I think this is kinda what Fergie was going for, and she just missed the mark. Which she has completely owned up to by the way. Plus it gave us the epic player reactions (shouts Draymond). And this:
I have no idea what Hart and Riggle were trying to do. Or why Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Adam Devine, & Ludacris agreed to it. Hart’s player intros were funny, especially for Team LeBron, but I was so over him by the time we got to them I felt I couldn’t truly enjoy them.
Once the game got started it was time to see if by virtue of it no longer being East Vs West we’d get a competitive game. And we did for the most part. It was still far more high scoring than a typical NBA game, and full of many, many, many turnovers, especially in the early going. There were only a few highlight dunks, (and one monster block to add to the Embiid vs Westbrook story), but it was a fantastic fourth quarter. Team LeBron completed a 13 point comeback to take a 3 point victory, closing out the game with some stifling defense of Stephen Curry at the buzzer.
LeBron won MVP Honors for the 3rd time, tying him with Michael Jordan (and Shaq and Oscar Robertson but c’mon, we only care about the MJ comparison). Look, LeBron could win 3 more ASG MVP’s giving him the most of all time and he still wouldn’t touch MJ’s ASG legacy because he’s never given us what we truly want: him in the Dunk Contest.
The other thing we want: a televised ASG Draft if this format continues, both of which seem likely. I’m all in on NBA Pettiness and that would be it at its best. But I don’t think it’s good enough to just air the Draft next year. No, I want to see it happen On-Court, mere seconds before the tip, Playground style. It would be amazing. And Kevin Love would be picked last. Count it.
Speaking of NBA Pettiness, Jimmy Butler decided to not play in the Game itself because he’s tired and wants to be fresh down the stretch. Which is all and good, but isn’t everyone in the Game basically in a similar situation Mr. Buckets? At least it gave us this:
Another Olympic Scandal
There’s one non-ASG related thing I need to touch on real quick. Once again, there is controversy with the Olympic Games. No its not the wardrobe malfunctions, or on-air cursing that I’m referring to. It’s the doping. Another Russian athlete has been caught using meldonium in a double positive drug test. You may remember this as the drug Maria Sharapova was caught using. You may also remember the entire Russian Olympic Committee was banned after accusations of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
So what highly athletic sport was mired in controversy this time? Hockey? Figure Skating? Skeleton? No, though those would all make sense. No, it was curling. Curling. The sport you can literally play drinking a beer. And yet, Alexander Krushelnitsky of the Russian mixed-doubles curling team that took Bronze, was the culprit. Now, they are of course claiming it was all a set-up. I’m not here to say whether or not that’s true. I’m not even here to make jokes about someone needing to dope to partake in Curling, because that joke writes itself. I’m just here to say that if Curling is subject to PED’s I fear we may never be rid of them, and that’s a damn shame.
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