This week has not started off well.
I woke up early around 12:45 Tuesday morning to people screaming and loud banging noises. I thought it was gunshots. Insert your "you know when you're from the Detroit area when..." jokes here.
|My neighbor's car|
I am going to take the glass is half full approach and say things can only get better. In fact, I know they will because waiting for me Saturday and Sunday are the NBA All-Star festivities. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite weekends of the year.
The game is always fun. No defense. High scoring. One player getting an assist and points all on the same play. It's a more refined version of the And 1 Mixtapes, minus the sweet nicknames like 'Bad Santa' and 'Sick Wit It.'
The highlight of the weekend is Saturday night.
It starts with the D-League All-Star game and NBA rookie-sophomore challenge, which are both only really excuses for people to play the "where did he go to college?" drinking game. Then come the skills competitions which are historically phenomenal. Whether its Larry Bird lighting up the Three Point Contest or Steve Nash's flawless ball handling exhibition, it's just fun to sit back and watch some of the best athletes in the world make difficult skills look effortless.
But, the dunk contest really makes the night.
If you excuse Nate Robinson's attempt versus actual finish ratio of 50 to 1, the contest has been pretty strong the last few years.
This year, there is some extra buzz with Rim Raper (I want royalties if this catches on) Blake Griffin in the field of dunkers. I have a feeling he is going to provide a few - yes, oh god yes, Meg Ryan "I'll have what she's having," yes, that was amazing - type moments at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
It's the perfect stage for the league's most exciting up and comer. Griffin will be on his home floor which will be filled with the who's-who of Hollywood and millions....and MILLIONS...watching at home. It will be his official coming out party. The most anticipated coming out party since Lance Bass.
|Joey Fat One|
As excited as I am to watch my biracial brother, Blake, put on a show, the contest needs one more piece, LeBron James.
Not only is LeBron the most athletic player in the league, but he also is its biggest star. The NBA would benefit a ton by having him in the contest, but it's LeBron who stands to gain the most.
I don't miss All-Star weekend. I schedule around it. Is this pathetic? Sure. Do I care? No. I consider myself a bit of an expert on the festivities. And one thing is true above all else, the game's greats become legends during the weekend.
Jordan, Dr. J, Dominique, Larry and Magic have all had their memorable All-Star moment. MJ and Dominique's jam sessions were one of the key reasons the NBA hit its peak in the late 80s and early 90s.
LeBron needs his moment, too. He needs it now more than ever.
Since his terrible "decision" the "Chosen One" has been the most hated man in the league. I personally can't stand him, but also acknowledge he is the most talented all-around player in the game.
LeBron has the ability to become one of the all time best, but choosing not to participate in the dunk contest is just another example of him lacking true champion fortitude.
I sat and listened with great excitement last year when he told Cheryl Miller he is entering his name into the dunk contest. Immediately, I checked the date for All-Star weekend 2011.
Who wouldn't want to see the game's most exciting player participate in its most exciting event? It could have been magical.
The other participants, alongside Griffin, are DeMar DeRozen, Javale McGee, and Serge Ibaka. No offense fellas, but you three are like going on a date with a person from Match.com who has no profile picture. You MAY surprise us all and provide a night of thrills, but it's more likely to end up disappointing and lead to suppressing thoughts of "ugg, I got suckered into this."
As he has his entire career, LeBron is again shying away from competition.
The dunk contest could have been his night of redemption.
If there is one thing universally true of sports fans, it's that we have short memories. Guys we can't stand one minute are our favorites the next. There is not one fan out there that isn't somewhat bipolar.
Prime examples, Mike Vick and Ron Artest.
LeBron should have capitalized on this. A memorable performance in the dunk contest could have helped gain back a lot of the luster he's lost.
All eyes would be on him. If he puts on a Jordanesque or Dwight Howard type show, he'd get more love than Antonio Cromartie at a fertility clinic.
I could see it now. LeBron does some kind of off the backboard, 360, around the back dunk and Kenny Smith almost soils himself in excitement while yelling "hahaha, It's over. It's OVER. Charles I don't care, I've never seen anything like this, Oh my god."
This excitement could all come to fruition if Bron Bron would follow through on his promise to get in the the contest. There lies the problem.
LeBron doesn't like situations where he could fail. He's in Miami because it's the easiest way to win a title. If the Heat do fizzle out in the playoffs, LeBron may get most of the blame, but it will also spread to Wade and Bosh.
LeBron is somewhat protected.
Chauncey Billups once said, "If it ain't rough, it ain't right." LeBron should take note. The greatest accomplishments in life are the ones that you fight and claw to achieve, even if it means you aren't great all the time.
Los Angeles is the city of stars, especially this Saturday and Sunday. LeBron could have left the weekend as the brightest of them all, but by backing out on his promise to join the dunk contest, he is proving, yet again, he's just another speck in the sky.