by Mike Booble

About The Author

If brains were gasoline Mike would have enough to power an ants motorcycle around the outside of a penny. Would be funny if it wasn't true. Sports, sports, sports. Often times he said if he didnt do SOMETHING in the industry in would be a complete waste of his childhood. Crisis averted. 

Team LeBron                   Team Giannis
               LeBron James          Giannis Antetokounmpo
Kevin Durant                    Steph Curry
Kyrie Irving                      Joel Embiid
Kawhi Leonard                Paul George
James Harden                 Kemba Walker
Anthony Davis                 Khris Middleton
Klay Thompson               Nikola Jokic
Damian Lillard                 Russell Westbrook
Ben Simmons                  Blake Griffin
LaMarcus Aldridge          D'Angelo Russell
Karl-Anthony Towns        Nikola Vucevic
Bradley Beal                     Kyle Lowry
Dwyane Wade                  Dirk Nowitzki

       Ever since I was a wee little lad I've loved the NBA All-Star Weekend. When Major League Baseball created the All Star game in 1932, the idea was to put all the best players in one place as a way to raise money for charity. Obviously the idea worked and it's been a annual tradition in major sports since.
       Growing up, I was far from poor. Poor would've been an upgrade. So watching the NBA on a nightly basis was out of the question. So just like in 1932, my best shot at seeing the best players was on that magical weekend in February. As a kid who played pickup games daily, my friends and I would “pick” which played we would be and play like them. If you were Shaq, you dominated the paint. If you were Jordan, you gambled too much and got your father killed. And hogged the ball. And punched your teammate in the face.
       In elementary school everyone wanted to be Penny Hardaway. Middle school the debate was Allen Iverson or Vince Carter. High School became Kobe or LeBron. Other than lacking the athleticism or skill to pull of the moves the players were known for, the game became a terrible version of the all star game. We didn't play defense to keep with tradition and it was mostly failed acrobatic layups (we couldn't dunk) and long three pointers. We played like Steph before Steph was a thing.
       Two years ago, when the NBA, in a desperate attempt to regain viewership changed the format to allow the two biggest vote getters to pick their teams, anyone who played streetball as a kid got that excited feeling in their gut. But in true Baby Boomer fashion, they screwed it up for us. They didn't televise the draft. All we, as the average NBA fan wanted to see, was who would be the last pick. Would Steph pick his teammates or actually pick the best player on the board. And they robbed us of that. Luckily they reversed course this year and televised it on tape-delay. Some good moments happened between LeBron and Giannis, especially when Giannis picked Ben Simmons, who was gonna be James’ next pick. We even had a trade, Westbrook for Simmons.
       What it reinforced, is the NBA continues to be the only league going after the younger generation of fans. NFL couldn't care less. Baseball is “too slow” for a lot of millennials. Even look at All Star Saturday Night. The skills competition, three point shootout and the dunk contest. Most of these events have big stars participating, adding at least a little intrigue to what a lot of people consider boring.
       Real quick, if you're one of those people who find the idea of the dunk contest played or boring, save it. No one cares. Don't watch. It's still going to go on. A lot more people care about it than don't. Go watch Game of Thrones or whatever terrible show you watch and leave true NBA fans the hell alone. Jordan v Dominique might've been the best dunk.contest but Vince a Carter was better than both of them combined. So was Jason Richardson, Dwight Howard, Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon. Jordan and Dominique wouldn't even make the field now.
Dunk Contest
Miles Bridges (Hornets)
John Collins (Hawks)
Hamidou Diallo (Thunder)
Dennis Smith Jr (Knicks)

       Ok, so maybe Jordan and Dominique would've made THIS field. That's brutal. Maybe I should rethink this article.
Let's move on.

3-pt Shootout
Devin Booker (Suns)
Seth Curry (Not Steph, Blazers)
Steph Curry Not Seth, Warriors)
Danny Green (Raptors)
Joe Harris (Nets)
Buddy Hield (Kings)
Damian Lillard (Blazers)
Khris Middleton (Bucks)
Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
Kemba Walker (Hornets)

       For me, this has been the main event for years. Probably because I could never dunk and loved shooting threes, but in this event you often get some of the best players in the world and a lot of the time some very fascinating storylines. If the finals this year arent Curry v Curry it's going to be a huge letdown. There is nothing I like watching more than a shooter find his or her rhythm and not miss. You can feel the energy in the crowd as the shooters hit six, seven, eight in a row. It's the best.

Skills Competition
Mike Conley (Grizzlies)
Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
De'Aaron Fox (Kings)
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
Nikola Vucevic (Magic)
Trae Young (Hawks)

       Here's the thing about the skills competition; it could be really good. It could be the best comp of the night. The problem is no one takes it seriously. So whichever competitor tries the hardest usually wins in a landslide. All the “stations” I'm ok with. I'd just like to change the format. Players win prize money if the place in the comps. I think they should wager before each round. For instance, if each player starts out with the same amount, maybe Young wagers $2500 he can beat Tatum. Winner takes the pile and moves on. Finalists bet whatever they're comfortable with, winner takes all.

     Now what would a preview column be without predictions:

Skills Comp: Luka Doncic
3pt Shootout: Kemba Walker
Dunk Contest: Miles Bridges
All Star Game: Team LeBron
MVP: James Harden

 And as always I'm Mike Booble and that's my opinion.