Originally posted on Kansan.com February 18th, 2014. Ran in the Kansan February 18th, 2014.
en McLemore entered the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans before his first dunk of the knockout stage, dressed in a lavish purple robe on top of his jersey. But, McLemore was not alone. He was accompanied by part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, Shaquille O’Neal. After Shaq unveiled his new, “Shaqlemore” jersey, he proceeded to park himself in the middle of the paint in a throne fit for a king. On McLemore’s second attempt, he rose up over Shaq and slammed home a rim-rattling dunk resembling the famous jumpman logo.
This year’s NBA All-Star Weekend was a little different than in years past. There were some changes in the dunk contest rules. Arne Duncan did well in the celebrity game. The 3-point contest wasn’t anything spectacular. I’m just glad I wasn’t keeping score. I would have needed a calculator. Also, LeBron James announced his “NBA Mount Rushmore.”
The dunk contest new rules received bad press from the media, fans and NBA players themselves. This year it was East vs. West. The first round, called the “freestyle” round, was underwhelming. However, the second knockout round had Ben McLemore dunking over Shaq. Each conference had 90 seconds for all three athletes participating in the contest to complete at least one dunk. Then in the “battle” round, dunkers went one-on-one against opposing conferences and the losing dunker was eliminated. Once the battle round was over, the top three dunkers, who all hailed from the East, were pitted against each other… for the fan vote. Personally, I would have rather watched John Wall, Paul George and Terrence Ross compete against each other in a final “winner-take-all” round.
Ever heard of Arne Duncan? Unless you’re into politics, I doubt it. I know I hadn’t. Duncan is the Secretary of Education of the U.S., and he can ball. He scored 20 points in the Celebrity All-Star game. To put that into perspective: his team scored 60. In addition to that, he had 11 rebounds and six assists, almost finishing with a rare triple-double.
As for the 3-point contest, Marco Belinelli shot two airballs in the first three racks. He came back in the tiebreaker round to hit 24 shots, placing him first, ahead of Bradley Beal.
While the NBA isn’t exactly known for defensive battles, in the 2014 All-Star game, that’s exactly what happened. The offensive shootout between the East and the West racked up a score of 163-155: the highest scoring All-Star game ever.
LeBron put some attention on himself this weekend. He named, in his opinion, the four best players to play the game: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. In true LeBron fashion, he went on to add that he will be one of the top four players to play the game.
Regardless of all the ups and downs, the weekend is done and over with. Let’s just hope that the NBA can revamp the dunk contest into something a lot more exciting in 2015.