I was listening to 97.5 earlier today, and they really brought up a good and what I feel is a relevant point among the myriad reasons why people don't like the NBA. Before 1995, All-Star weekend consisted of the 3-point shootout, the dunk contest, and the All-Star game itself. That was great. Then they added the Rookie game in 1995, and even that was interesting to a certain degree. Then the following occured:
1. A celebrity game, with "celebrity" being the operative word. A bunch of D-listers complimented by the occasional legitimate famous person.
2. The skills challenge, showing us how well Tony Parker and company can pass a ball through a hoop and dribble around cardboard cutout defenders.
3. The "Shooting Stars Competition", in which an NBA player, WNBA player, and a retired NBA player play 3 on 3 basketball representing their city. AKA, a role player, a woman nobody has ever heard of, and a player from the 80's or 90's that we may or may not know.
4. The "D-League" All-Star Game, Dunk contest, 3 point shootout, and H-O-R-S-E competition.
If there is ever an example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" not being observed, this is it. I remember a time in middle school and even early high school where I enjoyed watching the All-Star events. Nowadays, I don't even know some of the people involved. Some examples:
This year's three point contest--Kevin Durant, Kevin Love (both superstars), Mario Chalmers, Ryan Anderson, James Jones, and Anthony Morrow. If it weren't for NBA 2k11, I wouldn't even know who Anthony Morrow was. I had to look up James Jones too. Apparently, he won it last year. Mario Chalmers is recognizable more for his college career than his NBA numbers. And Ryan Anderson, after being a bench player in New Jersey and Orlando for his first two seasons, just decided to go crazy this season and be a monster offensive player.
Take a look at this wikipedia page listing the former competitors. Take a look at the names in the past. Granted, there have always been one or two players shrouded in obscurity, but I can't remember the last time an All-Star event had more no names than stars in it. When i think 3-point contest, this is what I think of. Not James Jones, Daequan Cook, or Jason Kapono (who have won 4 of the last five contests).
Moving on to more important matters, at least by TV ratings, the dunk contest. When I think dunk contest, I think of this and this. This year, we get to watch (drumroll) Paul George, Derrick Williams, Chase Budinger and Jeremy Evans.
Read those names again. If you can tell me who they play for without looking it up, I'll buy you dinner. Here are the lists of the other contestants in the past several years:
2011: Blake Griffin, JaVale McGee, DeMar DeRozan, and Serge Ibaka.
2010: DeMar Derozan, Nate Robinson, Shannon Brown, Gerald Wallace
2009: Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson, J.R. Smith, Rudy Fernandez
2008: Dwight Howard, Gerald Green, Jamario Moon, Rudy Gay
2007: Gerald Green, Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard, Tyrus Thomas
2006: Nate Robinson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Hakim Warrick
Two players--Griffin and Howard--are household names. NBA fans would know Iguodala and MAYBE Rudy Gay. That's it. Does the NBA think that putting players that average fewer points per game than dunks made in the dunk contest will attract new fans? Will Europe and Asia want to watch Chase Budinger and Jeremy Evans throwing down? NO!!! They want to see Kobe and LeBron and D-Wade and Dwight Howard. They want to see Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin. I'd even take Iguodala over these guys.
Putting no-name players in a dunk contest is the last thing the league should be doing, but honestly, I don't know if they have a choice. The superstars will never compete because of one thing: ego. LeBron won't do it because he knows if he doesn't win, that'll just be another thing for fans to ridicule him about. Kobe won't do it because he's too old. Dwight won't do it because he probably wants to prove he's more than just a dunker. The same goes for Blake Griffin, even though he jumped over a car. But that wasn't pre-determined, or anything.
The NBA fan's--hell, ANYBODY'S--perfect dunk contest would consist of Kobe, LeBron, Dwight, and Blake. We all know that will never happen because most NBA superstars, unfortunately, don't care about the fans. Their egos dominate their careers, which wouldn't exist if it weren't for the fans in the first place. In summary, the NBA All-Star weekend is somewhat of a microcosm of the NBA itself--dominated by stars and their egos while leaving the fans in the dust.