the absolute best all star saturday recap
|the absolute best all star saturday recap
Tags: afghanistan, basketball, bills, birthday, bobby sura, books, boston, celebrity, charles barkley, comedy, commercial, cuttino mobley, defense, espn, fight, golf, highlights, houston, houston rockets, jazz, karl malone, kenny smith, kobe bryant, los angeles, magic, moses malone, music, nba, nba.com, philadelphia 76ers, raptors, retro rockets, sacramento, school, sighting, sixers, spanish, steve nash, tnt, tony parker, tracy mcgrady, vince carter
02-11-2002, 12:50 PM
Since: Jun 2000
There are enough Rockets mentioned to put it in this thread ... I laughed out loud numerous times reading this:
Dear diary: More Chuck, less gimmicks
By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist
If you skipped Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, you really didn't miss that much. Being
one of the last 20 NBA fans on the planet, I subject myself to the game every
February, even though it defies just about everything I love about about basketball.
Nothing worse than a bunch of stars who don't feel comfortable playing with one
another, especially when they're lollygagging on defense, hoisting up bad 3s and
doing crummy Magic Johnson imitations.
Hey, there's another botched three-on-one! Hey,
there's another alley-oop sailing into the third row!
Hey, there's another 25-footer with nobody standing
And yet, without fail, four or five things happen that
make it worth watching. Tracy McGrady bringing
the house down by passing the basketball off the
backboard -- in traffic, no less -- and jamming
home the rebound with a near-reverse, or a variety
of alley-oops that actually worked. Doctor J trying
to pretend he was pleased that Allen Iverson was
wearing his No. 6 (yeah, right). Ray Allen hoisting
roughly 50 shots during extended garbage time in
the second half. The best player in the league
(Kobe Bryant) dominating the game on both ends
of the floor, simply because he was working harder
than everyone else.
You usually have one goofy wrinkle as well -- once
last night's game slipped away from the East, Philly's fans took out their frustrations
on poor Kobe, the hometown kid who made the mistake of starring for last year's NBA
champions (the same team that vanquished the Sixers in the Finals). And in a
heartwarming interview with Jim Gray, Kobe admitted that, yes, his feelings were hurt
by the whole thing. It was strangely gripping.
Of course, the All-Star Game wasn't half as absorbing as All-Star Saturday, a surreal
night loaded with failed gimmicks, embarrassing situations, cheesy performances,
inexplicable cameos, mind-boggling moments and the priceless comedic value of
Charles Barkley with a microphone. Since this was the last catastrophic All-Star
Saturday before Team Stern junks everything, adopts my HORSE idea and returns
the night to prominence -- and don't think that isn't happening -- I wasted my Saturday
night keeping a running diary.
Here's what transpired ...
7:02 -- Time for the raucous TNT pregame show featuring the Good Guys (Ernie
Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley) and a number of guests. Remember my
old joke about how Larry Bird's "Basketball Jesus" DVD should have three language
options -- English, Spanish and Moses Malone? Well, right now there's an actual
five-minute cameo from Moses himself! Can you put a price on this kind of comedy? I
think he just called Chuck "Pumpkinhead." I think.
7:05 -- Just cued up my closed-captioning to see if the guy typing Moses' words
would write, "I GIVE UP -- I QUIT." Didn't happen.
7:11 -- Moses departs; Bill Russell takes his place. I've said it before, I'll say it again:
The Pentagon needs to bottle Russell's laugh and use it as chemical warfare against
our enemies in Afghanistan. Just blare a repeated loop of him cackling for 24 hours a
day ... the Taliban would be crawling out of those caves and begging for mercy within
7:15 -- Time for another poignant, piano-in-the-background, sappy NBA monologue
from Jim Huber. The best part of these is when he throws it back to Ernie, as Kenny
and Chuck try to keep a straight face. Always kills me. I'm really enjoying myself right
7:19 -- You know, I'm a huge Celts fan, I love Bill Russell ... and even I'm tired of
hearing him discuss those 11 Boston championships at this point. Barkley loosens
things up by challenging Russell to a golf match, then warning him, "I play ghetto golf
-- I talk the whole time." I don't even have a joke here.
7:26 -- While Jamie Foxx and Barkley discuss Justin Timberlake's hoop credentials,
we have this exchange:
-- Foxx (derisively): "I like the geri-curls though, that's nice."
-- Charles: "Hey, white people call that a perm ... that's a geri-curl in the hood."
-- Ernie: (Making the terrified, "Should I throw this to commercial?" face).
7:33 -- Ernie announces that Karl
Malone will miss Sunday's game
because Malone's Mom is sick.
Damn ... how can they stage an
All-Star Game without the electric
presence of Karl Malone? Should
we even have the game now? Is it
too late to cancel the thing?
7:36 -- What are the odds that
Barkley and MJ are heading to
Atlantic City after tonight's festivities?
Would bookies even lay odds on
7:39 -- Speaking of MJ, Craig Sager interviews Jordan as a jealous Ahmad Rashad
circles them for a few minutes, then heads out to McDonald's with Kato Kaelin.
7:42 -- Within a 15-minute span, Barkley makes fun of Ernie's forehead, teases the
15-year-old chosen to represent the NBA.com voting for the Slam Dunk Contest, and
claims Kenny looks like George Jefferson. He's on fire right now.
7:47 -- Chuck and Ernie narrate highlights from the always-entertaining
Rookie-Sophomore Game. This year's game was especially lively, mainly because
the Rookie Team had quality point guards (Jamaal Tinsley and Tony Parker) and
scorers (Jason Richardson, Pau Gasol), while the Sophomores had better all-around
players (Kenyon Martin, Quentin Richardson, Mike Miller and the electric Darius
Miles, who tossed an alley-oop to himself off the backboard at one point). Just a
high-caliber pickup game, like "Above the Rim" on 10-foot backboards. Too bad it was
buried on Saturday afternoon.
7:51 -- Barkley, unedited: "Today is Jimmy Hatter's birthday -- he's the gay guy we
got workin' behind the scenes, y'all. We hire them all at TNT. We do not discriminate.
We hired the pimp last year, Craig Sager, and now we got Jimmy Hatter. We got all
the ethnic groups covered."
7:51 -- Lets just say Ernie threw it to a commercial really quickly.
7:53 -- Random tangent: Is anything dumber than the fact the Canadian anthem is
performed before every All-Star Game and any road game involving the Raptors? Has
that ever made sense? How many Canadians are in the league, three? No inane
sports tradition bothers me more than this one.
8:10 -- Time for the 989 Sports All-Star Hoop It Up Challenge ... say that nine
times fast. Pretty intriguing event: Four teams, four players per team (one current
NBA player, one old-timer, one WNBA player and one celeb), eight-minute games,
three-on-three, 16-second shot clock. I'm not totally against this idea. Yet. Although I
think the Hooters Topless WNBA All-Star Game would have been much more riveting.
8:19 -- Houston (Cuttino Mobley, Tina Thompson, Kenny Smith and Jamie Foxx)
takes on Philly (Eric Snow, Dawn Staley, Moses Malone and Justin Timberlake) in
the semifinals. Why couldn't a TV camera have been there when Malone and Justin
Timberlake were introduced? That scenario kills me, for some reason.
8:30 -- Final score: Houston 16, Philly 8 ... pretty much unwatchable -- lots of ugly
threes ... Malone ate up Thompson (um, maybe I should rephrase that) ... Timberlake
looked like he had game (like a Bobby Sura type) ... two airballs from Foxx ... Mobley
played with "I'm getting paid for this, right?" vigor ... I'm not quite ready to light myself
on fire yet, but I'm getting close.
8:32 -- OK, I'm there. We just had this exchange:
-- Craig Sager: "Justin, this Philly team was in synch."
-- Justin (searching for an answer): "Hey, man ... yeah."
8:36 -- Los Angeles (Magic Johnson, Derek
Fisher, Lisa Leslie, Brian McKnight) takes on
Sacramento (Hidayet Turkoglu, Sarunas
Marciulonis, Ticha Penicheiro, Tom Cavanagh) in
the other semifinals. Did you see the names on
Sacramento? Why couldn't Pat Summerall be
announcing this one? Couldn't we call Tom
Cavanagh "That Guy From Ed" instead of "Tom
Cavanagh"? Couldn't LA have come up with a
better celeb than Brian McKnight? And does this
game count in the record books as yet another
Magic Johnson comeback?
(Speaking of Magic, I mean ... put it this way ...
you would never, ever, ever see Larry Bird playing
in a game like this. Show some pride, Magic. For
8:48 -- Final score: Sacramento 25, LA 13 ... a
little more watchable than the other game ...
Sacramento played well together ... That Guy From "Ed" was trying just a little too
hard (setting back picks, playing in-your-face D and so on -- he's one of those guys
who probably ruins every pickup hoops game) ... Magic has to be edging toward Three
Bills -- he looked like Derrick Coleman (it was uncomfortable watching him -- even
Barkley avoided making fun of him) ... by the way, the crowd has collectively passed
8:53 -- Holy schmoly, fresh off the heels of their transfixing "Behind the Music" special
this month ... it's Hall & Oates performing live! And they look about 150 years old
combined! And they're singing the song from the greatest "NBA ... it's
FANNNNN-tastic" commercial of all-time -- that "One on One" song where James
Worthy did the 360-layup in slow motion. Remember that one? (Everyone over age 22
is nodding right now. Good times. Even if Hall can't hit those high notes anymore.) By
the way, Oates looks like a cross between Bababooey and Juan Epstein.
9:45 -- Since my boy Paul Pierce stunk the bed, let's just skip over the AT&T 3-Point
Shootout, a necessary event that ceased to be interesting about 10 years ago. Can
you name the last 10 winners? Of course not. We'll make this quick:
Highlights: Wesley Person nailing nine in a row ... Pierce wearing neon-green shoes
... Barkley on Steve Nash: "How much time did he spend on his hair, five seconds or
10?" ... Barkley on being recognized on his last trip to South Dakota: "It was easy,
because I was the only black person there. It was like, 'There he is again!'" ... Cheryl
Miller calling Ernie Johnson "Eeeg" for some reason ... Peja cleaning the final rack in
Round Two (five straight for six points, 19 total) ... Cheryl Miller struggling to interview
Peja (TNT won't be expanding that combo into an hourlong interview special any time
soon) ... Wesley Person gagging on the final Money Ball, which would have given him
the title ... Peja beating Person in OT, 9-5 ... yawnnnnnnnn.
10 -- My lamest celebrity sighting so far: Matthew Modine. Couldn't TNT send Craig
Sager over to badger him with "Vision Quest" questions? Did you ever have a rematch
against Chute? Do you keep in touch with Carla? Lunatic Fringe ... do you know if it's
10:05 -- The Three-on-Three Game final: Sacramento 12, Philly 9, thanks to an OT
three from Turkoglu. But the MVP of the game? That Guy from "Ed," who Team Ernie
openly called "Ed" instead of saying his real name. High comedy. Plus, "Ed" went so
overboard during the game (trying way too hard) that Barkley called him "annoying"
and said, "If you go out with a girl and they say she has a great personality, she's
ugly. If they tell you a guy works hard, he can't play a lick. Same thing."
(For all you high school seniors out there, feel free to use that as a yearbook quote.)
By the way, "Ed" was D-ing up Timberlake so ferociously that it looked like they
might get into a shoving match at one point -- would that have been the funniest
moment in All-Star Weekend history, bar none? -- prompting Barkley to quip, "If 'Ed'
and Justin Timberlake get in a fight, there won't be no blows." The entire sequence of
events was TREEEEEE-mendous, with the added bonus that Moses looked like he
might have a heart attack during OT. Now I'm hoping this event comes back next
10:03 -- Time for another Philly-related musical act ... it's McFadden & Whitehead!
You know, the guys who sang that "Ain't No Stopping Us Now (We're On The Move)"
song? All-Star Saturday night is big-time. No expense is spared, folks. We have
McFadden and Whitehead.
10:09 -- Time for the showcase event of the evening, the Slam Dunk Contest, which is
in its "ER after Dr. Benton, Dr. Ross and Nurse Hathaway left" stage, being stripped
down to a startling four competitors, two rounds and just one name player (Stevie
Francis). They even added a lame gimmick -- an actual game-show-type wheel that
features selected dunks from the '80s and '90s, as well as MJ, 'Nique, the Doctor and
others. Apparently you spin the wheel and recreate a dunk. Or something.
(You know a TV-driven concept has jumped the shark when they incorporate some
sort of wheel to jazz things up; you might as well go the whole nine yards and hire
Ted McGinley. Remember when the "Match Game" tried a wheel in the early-'80s?
Gene Rayburn was retiring his skinny mike within a year. A true tragedy. And yet I
10:17 -- Hey, it's Dr. J! He's a judge. Between Dr. J's white hair, Hall & Oates
stumbling through "Maneater," George Gervin looking like he's 60, and Magic looking
like a 300-plus has-been, I feel like I'm 45 years old right now. Doesn't it suck to get
old? I'm filled with hatred and self-loathing right now.
(The NBA ... it's FANNNNN-tastic! I love this game!)
10:43 -- Round One recaps: Desmond Mason over
Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace over Stevie Francis:
Richardson advanced because of two nice dunks - a
legit 360 and an impressive recreation of a Dominique
windmill jam ... Wallace advanced because Francis
crapped the bed ... the Wheel killed everyone but
Richardson -- Mason botched a Doctor J cuff-dunk,
Francis was saddled with Terence Stansbury's "Statue
of Liberty" dunk when he can't even palm the ball, and
Wallace barely pulled off Dr. J's switch hands/reverse ...
the "involving the teammates for an alley-oop pass" has
to go ... so does the wheel... so does this contest ...
and yet it's like a car crash -- you can't turn away ...
maybe the highlight was when Barkley said about
Mason, "You can't emma-late Doctor J."
(Note to TNT: Get rid of the between-dunk interviews --
they're always awkward, always clunky and rarely
interesting. Dump them. Please.)
10:51 -- For their first dunk in the Finals (chosen by the hideous wheel), Wallace pulls
off a poor man's version of the Dr. J "jump from the foul line" dunk, while Richardson
doesn't even come close to pulling it off. Neither guy gets high scores. "They're killin'
me," Wallace says about the judges, sounding disturbingly like Andre the Giant.
10:52 -- Barkley on Richardson's two feeble attempts at the Dr. J dunk: "He is not
comfortable jumping off one leg ... he likes jumping off two legs ... he can't jump off
one leg, he's not comfortable ... he is not comfortable jumping off one leg ... he's just
not comfortable jumping off one leg ... he's just not comfortable jumping off one leg ...
in the preliminary rounds, every dunk was off two feet ... he likes to jump off one leg."
(The lesson here: Richardson likes jumping off two legs.)
10:55 -- Oh, boy ... Wallace just botched the Vince Carter "Dunk and put your elbow
through the rim" dunk for a 36. This is a disaster. Wallace actually almost started
crying during the interview with Saigs. I'm not kidding. They had to cut away. Is
anyone else dying inside right now?
(Whoops ... did I just call Craig Sager "Saigs"? Time to wrap this up.)
10:58 -- Hey, a good dunk! After about 19 attempts, Richardson finally pulls off a
"Throw it up, let it bounce, jump, catch it and reverse-slam without looking" dunk to
win the contest. "That dunk had the flu!" Kenny screams. "That dunk was sick!"
Still, a pretty feeble contest. Four competitors, 16 total dunks ... and only the last one
was truly memorable. I also felt awkward about 27 different times, making it a grand
total of 110 since this show started.
So what happens next year? I'm guessing the Long Distance Shootout and the
Three-on-Three Game make a comeback. I can't imagine any scenario in which the
Dunk Contest returns, especially with my HORSE idea lurking in the background and
waiting for the okay from Team Stern. Heck, they don't even have to call it HORSE --
they can cut it down to four letters, find a corporate sponsor and call it SONY or
something like that. Biggest no-brainer of all-time. Just make sure Barkley, Kenny
and Ernie are involved.
(My final grade for All-Star Saturday: C-plus. Time to start doing some serious
Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.
02-11-2002, 01:02 PM
Since: Jan 2000
I'd say this author emulated my exact feelings about the events.
I am unique....just like everyone else.
02-11-2002, 01:11 PM
Since: Jun 2001
02-11-2002, 06:11 PM
Since: May 2000
Hit the nail on the head. Timberlake is very idiotic and womanly sounding. Most of the interviews were very awkward. EJ, Kenny, and Chuck were good, but it still sucked overall. I will soon tape over it.
Hakeem, Hasaw, Haconquered.
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