Sunday, February 20, 2011
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.
By Ken Levine at 6:51 AM