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Davies: I love NBA All-Star weekend, but I just can't feel the game

Davies: I love NBA All-Star weekend, but I just can't feel the game

You know, I always find it ironically amusing how much the general NBA public gets upset over who does and doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star. Because when the weekend comes itself, the incredible competitive spirit that each player performs with to earn that rare honor is completely absent by the time the ball tips on Sunday night.

This isn’t going to be an old-man-yells-at-a-cloud hit piece of "here's how the All-Star Game needs to be changed" or how this current generation of stars doesn’t carry the same gritty mentality as the rough-and-tough decades. Those tropes are tired by my estimation to be quite honest. However, isn't it just a wee bit concerning that we have this exact conversation year after year after year after year?

Let’s Keep it 94 (free plug!): The three-day spectacle is meant to be a celebration of the greatness that this league has to offer and a pat on the back to the players who make it so. It’s a show, a reason to take a break and not take things so seriously. Guys are laughing, and spending time with family and friends and co-workers that have a sensational gift of talent.

(No matter how good or bad All-Star Saturday turns out to be, I will always crack a smile watching these guys dressed to the nines huddled on the sidelines just having a blast.)

With that being said, I cannot truly feel the All-Star Game right now. There just isn’t that “must watch” factor that could absolutely destroy every other professional sport’s marquee weekend if it wanted to, and it’s head-scratching as to why.

Our Nekias Duncan — who was on the ground for Basketball News this weekend in Salt Lake City, shout out to him for that and his amazing work all the time — tweeted something out that really got me thinking.

“It doesn’t have to be 5%.”

Nekias is on point with that message, and five percent may be generous. There has to be a balance in this thing. You don’t want these guys to sustain any type of injuries, and you certainly don’t want a potential setback to cost their respective teams. But can’t there be just a smidgen more “give an F” about the game? You don’t have to compete on every possession. How about once every 10 instead of every 30? Is that a fair compromise?

I was watching the game with a friend of mine at home, and I feel like the biggest fans that support this event can’t even argue with the typical NBA haters when you’re essentially watching a game of HORSE for two hours. It just gives those detractors more fuel.

I’m all for a good parking lot shot — Damian Lillard, a tip of the cap to you because... holy hell — but when deep threes, mostly uncontested and many bricked, make up the shot chart the entire way, it becomes old hat. By the way, some of these lanes were more wide open than pregame shootaround layup lines before actual games.

It just seems as if that aura we’ve been searching for continues to be missing.

Again don’t get me wrong, it has its moments still. Like, I highly enjoy when All-Stars decide to have their own dunk contest in the early-going to pump the crowd up. LeBron James started it off, and Ja Morant electrified with his as per usual. Kyrie Irving attempting to get Nikola Jokic to dunk on alley-oop attempts was rich, as was Luka Doncic being mic’d up for the second quarter saying essentially nothing. At least LeBron  put a body on some dudes and attempted some blocks at the rim.

People got on their feet when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown iso’d each other for the final moments of the third quarter in a clash of the Boston Celtics’ best. That was cool to watch unfold, and it just shows even the best of friends and teammates want to one-up each other on the floor. It’s why they play the sport. We need more of those types of interactions, 1-on-1 matchups and a game within the game, so to speak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and his infectious personality were made for this kind of event. He legitimately loves what he does, and has a ton of fun with the experience.

Having the Elam Ending in the fourth with all the marbles is an innovative addition. Bringing charities into the mix is brilliant as well. Hell, the first-ever live game day All-Star draft was a creative move.

But when you have players and coaches talking down about the quality of basketball being played in postgame interviews, that’s problematic.

When you have media talking down about the quality of basketball being played in different mediums, that’s problematic.

When you have an arena full of people that see that quality of basketball being played on such a stage, that’s problematic.

While there’s obviously some looking inward for the players to do considering that’s in their control, it’s also telling that no matter how many tweaks have been made, nothing can really be done to incentivize them more. 

I don’t have the answers. I don’t think anybody does. I also wouldn’t be surprised if anybody reading this gives a damn what a 30-year-old reporter who types and talks for a living thinks.

I am a hoops fanatic. This sport is literally my life. Watching these talented individuals grow the NBA the way it has on a global scale is a privilege.

There just has to be a way to put on a show while also trying just a little bit harder. This is arguably the biggest annual weekend of the NBA's calendar year. It’s an offensively-driven night, I get it. It’s a meaningless game for all intents and purposes.

We're not going to care about this for another 365 days. I'll be over it by the time tomorrow comes quite frankly.

But a 184-175 final? That has to be where we draw the line... right?

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