Sunday, February 20, 2011

The NBA All-Star Game -- what a joke


Tonight’s the NBA All-Star Game, held this year in Los Angeles. There are something like 85 teams in the NBA, which is why it’s been seven whole years since the last NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. In Major League baseball, where they truly do rotate the honor around, Los Angeles last hosted an All-Star Game in 1980.

But the NBA doesn’t give a shit about rewarding its local fans in places like Milwaukee. All they care about is boosting ratings, improving their image, and being seen with stars. The last time Milwaukee hosted the All-Star Game was 1977. Jimmy Carter was still president. LA has had it three times since. Hell, Las Vegas hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2007 and they don’t even have a team. Meanwhile, Sacramento has had a team for 25 years and they’ve never hosted an All-Star Game. Good luck Toronto, Memphis, and Oklahoma City. You better hope that Mike Tyson moves there.

The big attraction of Los Angeles of course is its tie-in with Hollywood. God forbid the NBA tries to attract an audience with just its product. The NBA All-Star Game is your chance to watch the greatest basketball players in the world play 48 minutes of no defense. Final score will be 149-147. And I guarantee there won’t be an over-time. Too many parties for the players to get to.

Here’s my favorite quote: Jim Kahler, a former Cleveland Cavaliers executive who now oversees the Center for Sports Administration at Ohio University said, "It's a testament when the motion picture industry is interested in your sport." Oh yeah. What an honor, to be endorsed by the greatest attention whores the world has ever known. I’ll bet if you asked half these stars who just have to be there, to name ten All-Stars besides Kobe Bryant, half wouldn’t be able to do it. “Let’s see there’s LeBron James, Michael Jordan… give me a minute… oh, and that tall guy, Chien-Ming Wang…”

The only real suspense will be which stars get the courtside seats. Ironically, the two celebrities who really are fans and go to every game – Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington – won’t be there. But Justin Beiber will be. And in the front row. Why? Because he connects with the younger demographic that the NBA is hoping to snare. If Dyan Cannon wants to go I imagine she’ll be up in the upper deck with a seat partially obstructed by the American flag. Oh, and Chinese actress Huang Yi will also be courtside. The NBA wants to grow its brand in China.

And then there’s the music industry. Snoop Dog and Diddy and Bruno Mars will be aboard along with selected others. Hey, it’s not like they can be seen on MTV anymore.

Charlie Sheen is still checking to see if he can rehab in the Staples Center so we don’t know yet whether he’ll be coming.

Doing the seating arrangement for these stars has to be a nightmare. God forbid you have to sit in the third row. And what about all their posses and bodyguards? Where do they sit? Probably the team benches.

The NBA All-Star Game is not a sporting event. It’s another exclusive party that you’re not invited to. It’s entertainment for royalty, a pleasant diversion for the elite. And if you can believe this, some of the stars’ agents actually want the All-Stars to stop by and chat with their clients during halftime. Manu Ginobili needs to pay his respects to capo famiglia, Dustin Hoffman.

Let me know who wins. I’ll be watching U.C. Santa Barbara women’s basketball as they take on Seattle University. I’d rather see parents courtside who really care instead of Chris Tucker and Rob Reiner.

21 comments:

Harry said...

Absolute brilliance, Mr. Levine. There is not a word in there that does not have truth in it. It's not just the All-Star Game, it's the league as a whole.

Keep speaking the truth.

Carlos M Hernandez said...

The ASG is for the kids. That's how I see it because the last time I cared about the ASG was when I was a kid and things like seeing my favorite stars play worse basketball than a DIII school was the highlight of my NBA watching season.

I'm also a Knicks fan so, you know, I had very little else to look forward to once the playoffs came around.

Eric said...

Sounds like you couldn't get a ticket.

Thomas Zahler said...

Here in Cleveland, we hosted an All-Star Game about 15 years ago. There was a report by one of our local media who asked why it was impossible to get a ticket and commented on how there wasn't a lot of local outreach. He said the reply from whatever NBA contact he had was "This is party is for us, not you."

Cartright said...

Last MLB ASG at Dodger Stadium was 1980

Anonymous said...

As uttered in the film Carrington by Jonathan Pryce playing Lytton Strachey: God damn, blast, confound and fuck the upper classes.

And this post is even more well struck coming from someone who most assuredly _could_ have had a ticket if he'd wanted, and easily so.

KEN LEVINE said...

Thanks Cartwright. You are right. 1980. I should know. I was there.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like the Super Bowl, no?

Rory L. Aronsky said...

It’s entertainment for royalty, a pleasant diversion for the elite.

The elite? Ken, I hope you wrote that accidentally.

VP81955 said...

Well, the most recent MLB ASG wasn't too far from you, Ken, down the road in Anaheim, a Metrolink ride away.

But I otherwise agree with your comments. The NBA is so much bling and bull, with a game atmosphere that makes baseball's current contrived bombast seem like the epitome of decorum. I generally could care less about the NBA, and even if my Wizards somehow magically returned to the stature of the late '70s championship Bullets, I doubt I'd be all that interested.

50 years ago last month, the NBA ASG was in, of all places, my birthplace of Syracuse, held at the venerable War Memorial (which still stands today as a minor-league hockey venue, home of the Ducks' AHL affiliate). For more on that memorable night -- a far cry from the spectacle it's now become -- go to http://www.syracuse.com/poliquin/index.ssf/2011/01/fifty_years_ago_this_very_day.html

LA Nuts book said...

Let's see: Mammoth, televised circle jerk at the home court of the most elitist franchise in pro sports in the most self-important city in America.

Why the indignance, Ken?

Anonymous said...

"All star" and exhibition games should be banned, right along with astro turf and domed stadiums.

Phillip B said...

To paraphrase lyrics from the group - "we are building a religion, we are building a brand. And everyone keeps calling me "Dude."

MLB has the best All=Star game - it may be flawed but has a great tradition. The NBA weekend is about the brand - the image and the marketing.

Somehow they don't pick up the revulsion their excess triggers - or they take that reaction as a sign their strategy is working. Always unsettling to know you are not a part of the target market...

analee said...

NBA all star is the best game ever.
Thanks for the brilliant post.

Cap'n Bob said...

Not hard for me to ignore. I don't care about basketball at all.

John Pearley Huffman said...

I watched my eight year-old son's hoops team play on Saturday to a thrilling 25-24 win. The skills were low but the drama high.

I've gone to a couple of UCSB Gauchos game. They're in a conference no one pays attention too and play teams no one cares about like UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly San Luis. Had a blast every time and the quality of play was amazing -- any Division One NCAA team is high quality.

Went to a Lakers game. Had a good time in the nosebleed seats. I think me and my son were right on the dividing line between the Bloods and Crips sections. They were all great guys, even if they only people who'd recognized them were their parents and parole officers.

Probably going to hit a couple of high school games too. Plan on having fun at every one.

Basketball at any level is a great game that needs not an ounce of celebrity to be entertaining.

The NBA All-Star game wasn't basketball.

selection7 said...

I enjoyed it. It was fun seeing the guys do things they wouldn't normally try because they'd be playing it safe. I liked watching the interactions between all the big egos and ,in some cases, friends, too.

danrydell said...

The game may be fun, but the weekend is an open casting call for the worst bunch of degenerates ever. You never want to be in town if the all-star game comes to your town.

Dana Gabbard said...

It is all about money...

Anonymous said...

LA Angels rebranding FAIL

Anonymous said...

You know, not that I really care..... but I didn't even know this game was being played. It's like missing that latest meteor shower, it'll happen again next year, and not too many people will be interested!