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Lots of random dribbles on All-Star weekend.
1. It’s a weekend of fun, parties, basketball and Hollywood. And I want no part of any of it. For the 100th straight year, I’m skipping the NBA All-Star Game by choice.
2. Actually, that’s not true. I went in 1994 in Minneapolis. I’ve tried to pretend it never happened and I promised myself I’d never go back.
3. Nothing wrong with All-Star Weekend, it’s just not for me. It’s not about basketball as much as it is about celebrity — and occasionally, who can emerge as the biggest.
4. Once upon a time in a far off land (OK, America), it actually was about the game. Now, it’s more or less an opportunity for celebrities and wanna-be celebrities to hang out and make bad jokes and act important. I’m good with the bad jokes part. The rest just ain’t me.
5. When I attended the game in Minneapolis, the press seats were a murder’s row of Hall of Fame basketball writers: Peter Vecsey, Sam Smith, Bob Ryan and Phil Jasner. I was in awe. Now? There are still plenty of extremely talented journalists, including some of my favorites right here in Cleveland. But I’m older than all those guys now. They have no desire to hang out with me and I don’t blame them.
6. It’s OK that the game isn’t about the game. This is how the NBA makes millions. When it used to strictly be about the basketball … well, only die-hard basketball fans like us bought tickets. We are a determined and admirable bunch for sure. But pro basketball is no longer all about us. The NBA has found a way to bring in popular culture and become trendy, and while I sometimes think it goes a little too far, it’s also the wise, money-making thing to do.
7. Stop me if I sound like I’m 92-years old. It’s probably only going to get worse.
8. The Rising Stars Game and slam-dunk contest and 3-point shootout are all just fine and I know most fans seems to enjoy them. I haven’t watched one since 2004. Nothing wrong with them. But I have a wife, three sons and two cats. They sometimes tolerate me enough to want my attention. This is a good weekend for me to give it to them.
9. I usually take my sons to a high school game on at least one of the All-Star Weekend nights. Sometimes, both nights. I absolutely love high school basketball and I’ve had dreams of starting a high school hoops website. There’s probably no money in it, and since I have a family to feed, it will probably have to wait until retirement. Or until one of you wins the lottery and decides to invest. (Remember what I said about being OK with bad jokes?)
10. But since this is my birthday weekend, my wife is taking me to see an Eagles cover band. She’s 35-years old, so I assumed she’s too young to really know about the Eagles. I proved to be right when she asked, “Aren’t they from Philadelphia?”
11. For the record, the Eagles were before my time too. I mean, kind of, anyway.
12. For the record, and for those of you already trying to find the perfect gift, my birthday isn’t until Thursday. The same day as George Washington, Rajon Rondo and most importantly, Julius Erving.
13. Honestly, I can remember as a kid looking at the back of a basketball card and seeing Dr. J was born on Feb. 22, too. I sprinted up the stairs to tell my dad, who just happens to be the entire reason I fell in love with basketball, despite being short, slow and unskilled. (I’m talking about me there, not my dad. He actually had mad skills.) Anyway, my dad looked up from the sports section long enough to say, “Oh wow. Congratulations.”
14. Seems like an odd response, congratulating someone for being born on the same day as a basketball superstar. But perhaps that explains why I have been determined to do this for a living all my life. And why, while I never really saw him play, Dr. J will always be my first favorite player.
15. Anyway, back to the All-Star Game. LeBron James indicated the new format of players picking sides should add some life back into it. Gone is the old East-West format. I’ll miss the East vs. West concept, but I’d rather see decent basketball. If this makes things a little more competitive, I’m all for it.
16. I have my doubts, but I plan to watch. Usually, I plan to read. Or write. Or watch a movie. So I guess you could say All-Star Weekend finally has my attention again. But no way am I going back there … unless, of course, someone really young and cool invites me.