NBA All-Star Weekend set to torture long-suffering New York basketball fans

New York will be center stage as the best NBA players participate in several events for All-Star Weekend 2015.

New York will be center stage as the best NBA players participate in several events for All-Star Weekend 2015.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

1976 was the year of the bicentennial celebration of America’s independence, Sugar Ray Leonard and Bruce Jenner were celebrated for winning their gold medals in the 1976 Olympics, and the NBA and ABA merged, uniting the best basketball players in one league. 1976 also happens to be the last year a professional basketball team won a championship in New York.

"Dr. J" Julius Erving led the NY Nets past the Denver Nuggets for the last ABA championship in 1976.

“Dr. J” Julius Erving led the NY Nets past the Denver Nuggets for the last ABA championship in 1976.

Julius Erving led the New York Nets, based in Long Island, to an upset victory over David Thompson and the Denver Nuggets. 29 years later, the NBA’s best players will take center stage in New York, with events taking place at both Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden.

Erving (l) and David Thompson (r) not only went head-to-head in the 1976 ABA Finals but also the inaugural slam dunk competition as well. Dr, J was victorious on both occasions.

Erving (l) and David Thompson (r) not only went head-to-head in the 1976 ABA Finals but also the inaugural slam dunk competition as well. Dr, J was victorious on both occasions.

Friday and Saturday will be highlighted by the Celebrity Basketball game and a newly formatted Rising Stars challenge that will pit first and second year players from the US against international players. 1976 was also the year of the inaugural slam dunk competition, won by “Dr. J” Julius Erving. Saturday, will also feature the Slam Dunk competition, as well as the Skills Challenge, and a star-studded 3-point shootout.

The Eastern Conference starters that were voted for Sunday's game. (l - r) Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry.

The Eastern Conference starters that were voted for Sunday’s game. (l – r) Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry.

The Friday and Saturday events scheduled for the Barclays Center will surely be entertaining, Sunday’s All-Star game at MSG should be intriguing. LeBron James will headline an Eastern squad that will feature four Atlanta Hawks and the lone New York representative in Carmelo Anthony.

Steph Curry (l) and James Harden (r) are top MVP candidates this season and will compete in the 3-point shootout while starting together in the backcourt  for Sunday's All-Star game.

Steph Curry (l) and James Harden (r) are top MVP candidates this season and will compete in the 3-point shootout while starting together in the backcourt for Sunday’s All-Star game.

The Western squad will be headlined by this season’s MVP candidates Steph Curry and James Harden. The West will be the favorite in the matchup as their team also includes the best duo in the NBA in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant as well as talented big men in LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, and DeMarcus Cousins.

The last time the Knicks went to the NBA Finals was the year after New York hosted the 1998 All-Star game. Larry Johnson's 4-point play against the Indiana Pacers was perhaps the most memorable  shot on that Finals run.

The last time the Knicks went to the NBA Finals was the year after New York hosted the 1998 All-Star game. Larry Johnson’s 4-point play against the Indiana Pacers was perhaps the most memorable shot on that Finals run.

While NBA fans will have the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of New York, weather permitting, and marvel at the best players the league has to offer, Knicks and Nets fans will have to return to a season where both teams have been disappointments. But who knows? The last time New York hosted the NBA All-Star game was 1998 then the Knicks went to the Finals the following year. So there’s a little hope for New York basketball fans.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training/benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twiiter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

NBA buries All-Star Weekend, misses chance to increase fan base

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

The starters that were voted for the Eastern and Western Conference.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend started on Friday February 14, 2014 in the evening, one week later than in its heyday, in keeping with a trend that began in 2004. The consistent conflict with scheduling the festivities at the same time as Valentine’s Day is a missed opportunity for the NBA to promote its brightest stars. After all, even the most hardened basketball fans realize that Valentine’s Day must not compete with sports or anything else and when that day of romance falls on a weekend, all bets are off for sports.

By continuing to schedule the NBA All Star Weekend to coincide with Valentine’s Day, the NBA is demonstrating that it is unable to relate to its core fan base or that those in charge are cynical at best, or tone-deaf at worst.

The 2014 NBA All-Star weekend is held in New Orleans this year.

The 2014 NBA All-Star weekend is currently underway in New Orleans during Valentine’s Weekend.

All-Star Weekend is an excellent chance for the NBA to give the casual fan a glimpse at the best of what the league has to offer. Recent changes in the date of the All-Star Weekend festivities and the decision to broadcast the All-Star game live on Sunday night have detracted from what is usually an exciting time of the year for NBA fans. The 8:30 pm Sunday evening start time for the NBA All-Star game inhibits casual fans from tuning in to the game because numerous scripted shows with huge followings are routinely on at the same time. Additionally, the late start in the Eastern time zone makes it more difficult for the NBA to reach a wider demographic in terms of age range since the target audience may not be able to stay up late or potential viewers may have other plans for their late evening hours.

The NBA had its greatest popularity when their best players (l-r) Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley were seen in the All Star game on network TV on Sunday afternoons.

The NBA had its greatest popularity when their best players (l-r) Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley were seen in the All Star game on network TV on Sunday afternoons.

Simple tweaks to the NBA All-Star Weekend would go a long way towards the stated goal of the new NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, to “bridge the popularity gap between the NBA and the National Football League (NFL).” Moving the All-Star Weekend back a week in February to the first weekend after the Super Bowl, where it was for decades, would help avoid the Valentine’s Day dilemma that many NBA fans face.

The NBA would also benefit from changing the NBA All-Star Game back to an afternoon game on network television on Sundays, as it was during its greatest period of popularity in the 1990’s. The earlier start time would allow all basketball fans, casual or die-hard, to tune in to see the best NBA players with far less competition on television at that time. The NBA would also reach a broader demographic that may not have cable or want to stay up late to watch the games.

With all that said, this NBA fan will continue to watch the best NBA players this Sunday in the All-Star game while being thankful that the DVR and low-level All-Star festivities on Friday night created no conflict in my home on Valentine’s Day.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training specialist. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

2014 NBA All-Star game starters announced, surprising changes made

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

The starters for the Eastern and Western Conference were revealed Thursday night.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Last night, the National Basketball Association (NBA) revealed the starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, as voted on by the fans. The starters are a combination of fan favorites and first time starters. The Eastern Conference will be represented by Kyrie Irving, Dwayne Wade, Paul George, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. The Western Conference starters are Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Kevin Durant. The reserve players will be selected by the coaches and revealed next Thursday. The injured players that are elected to the all-star team will be replaced by players selected by the commissioner.

The NBA continues to make jerseys with sleeves despite fan reaction.

The NBA continues to make jerseys with sleeves despite poor fan reaction.

The NBA continues to tweak what is considered by many to be the best all-star game of the major professional sports. Unfortunately, the recent changes have not been good. This year’s jerseys were largely disliked by the fans when they were unveiled a few weeks ago. The NBA has also changed the voting format which eliminated the center position from the fan ballot. The result this year is a starting line-up in both conferences devoid of a center. In the previous format, Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert would likely be starters for the West and East respectively. While these changes seem subtle, they change the composition of the teams and make the game more difficult to enjoy, especially with such distracting jerseys.

The classic look of this Michael Jordan jersey would not only make a difference aesthetically, but likely monetarily as well.

The classic look of this Michael Jordan jersey would not only make a difference aesthetically, but likely monetarily as well.

A few simple changes can help the NBA All-Star game reclaim its former glory as the most exciting exhibition game. First, return the all-star game to early in the afternoon on Sunday instead of the late night time slot it currently has. Most sports fans are accustomed to having a premier sporting event Sunday afternoon and this game was featured at that time successfully for years. Secondly, go back to the classic all-star game uniforms. Fans like acquiring jerseys they want to wear outside, not these pajama look-a-likes the NBA is pushing this season. Last, but not least, add two more players to the all-star roster per team. There are 30 NBA teams but only 24 all-star player spots. There are always more deserving players than all-star positions, but adding two players for each side would create more slots to reward a greater variety of players in the league.

The NBA All-Star Weekend is a great platform for the league to showcase their young talent, 3-point specialists, best dunkers, and best players in the league this season. There is no need for the novelty ideas for this all-star game because, unlike with other major sports, the best players will be on the court when it matters and the game will always include memorable highlights. In this case, revisiting the past might be what’s best for the future of the NBA All-Star game.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.