On Friday night, I took my two kids to see the Harlem Globetrotters. It brought back memories, since I remember seeing them when I was about the same age. I wasn’t even remotely a basketball fan, back then, but I was entertained and thrilled to be able to get the autograph of one of the referees from the game, afterwards (I didn’t want to wait for the line for the players). Back then, the Globetrotters were still at their peak of popularity, being featured on shows like The Love Boat and Gilligan’s Island. “Curly” Neal, who might be the most famous Globetrotter (Wilt Chamberlain was a Globetrotter, but was most famous for his NBA exploits), was nearing the end of his career and we were all disappointed when it appeared he wasn’t playing. No bald headed Globetrotter made his way onto the court when the team came out. Of course, everyone was relieved when someone snatched off his wig to reveal his signature bald head.
So as I said, I took my own children to them on Friday night. Neither I nor my kids knew any of the current Globetrotters, and to my disappointment, their opponent was not the long suffering Washington Generals, whose ineptness over the years has made the Clippers (before Chris Paul) look good. Instead, it was the International Elite, a team that had won the Championship tournament “overseas” that allowed them to compete for the World Championship against the Globetrotters in the very game we were going to see! Can you believe how fortunate we were!!
Despite the fact that it had been at least a couple of decades (more or less) it seems they haven’t changed many of their routines. They still throw the bucket of confetti at the audience, pretending it’s water, they still bring women out of the audience to flirt with and they still pull down the shorts of the opponent while he takes a free throw (which was probably the highlight of the night, as far as my youngest was concerned- the look on her face when they did it was priceless).
And then there was the game. Well, I call it a game, and it did end up being close, but everyone over the age of 12 already knew what the outcome would be. I have to say it was a little difficult for me to watch. There was almost a negative amount of defense played, and the introduction of the four point shot (players shooting from near half court during a 2 minute span at end of each quarter) just meant we were treated to two minutes of players chucking up 3o footers and missing (both teams probably went 2-30 for the evening).
My kids enjoyed it, though, which was the main thing and they both got actual player autographs after the game (who, I have no idea, and neither do they) which capped off a fun night for them.
So why am I bringing this up in a post about All Star Weekend? Because I think it’s incredibly fitting that I saw the Harlem Globetrotters during All-Star Weekend. Both feature basketball that is all flash and no substance, and an over-produced event that tries to make the actual game secondary.
I didn’t always feel this way. I remember when All Star Weekend used to rank up there just below the Playoffs, on my must see list. Back when basketball on television, in Canada, was an uncommon occurrence, All Star Weekend was a time when I could see all my favourite players play together in one place. And I remember when all we, in Canada, would be able to see of the All-Star game was during the halftime show of the All Star game.
Even the dunk contest and three point shoot-out were must see events. Back in the All Star Weekend heyday, two of the best players in the league were going dunk for dunk to see who would win the trophy. This weekend, you’ve only got one dunker who even plays more than 19 minutes per game, and the guy, Jeremy Evans who won has played a TOTAL of 89 minutes for the entire season. Dwight Howard played more than that in his first WEEK this season. And no, I’m not exaggerating to make a point.
Why is it that the dunk contest has evolved into a contest with guys most fans have never heard of? And why has LeBron James never competed in one? You’d think with players so obsessed with making money and racking up endorsements, that participation in the dunk contest would be sought after. After all, Michael Jordan, Spud Webb, Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter and Dwight Howard all used the dunk contest as a springboard to make their name more popular and all are richer because of it.
But I digress.
So, I stopped watching the whole All Star game a few years ago, but this is the first time I purposely skipped the entire weekend. Like after I started watching my second ever Superbowl, which I got five minutes into and realized that I don’t actually like football so why the hell am I trying to watch THIS game, a serenity came over me when I came to the conclusion I have not enjoyed watching any of the events at All Star Weekend for quite some time.
The rookie game used to be interesting, but now it’s like watching a bunch of guys play a game they care absolutely nothing about except to try and make themselves look good. While I obviously didn’t watch the game, I like Greg Munroe a lot more after hearing that he did this…
The thought of defenders purposely staying out of the way so John Wall could do a flashy dunk (one of maybe 50 featured in the game) is exactly why I hated watching. This is like at the end of a night of playing pickup when no one cares anymore and people just want to do something flashy before they go home. Unfortunately this was only the beginning of the weekend.
Thankfully, though, it was a weekend I took no part in. And I have no regrets.