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The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Hot Shot: NBA All-Star Weekend: Is it time to stop?

Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown goes for a contested layup. Brown was one of the four players who competed in the 2024 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, coming in second place.

For nearly 75 years, the NBA has held the All-Star Weekend, a three-day event where the league’s stars play together on basketball’s brightest stage. The weekend aims to entertain, hosting unique events including the Slam Dunk Contest, All-Star Game and the Three-Point Contest. It’s everything a fan could ask for.

As someone who loves watching basketball, I was extremely excited for this year’s events. What I was met with were three days of boredom and disappointment. In particular, there were two things I was really underwhelmed by.

Number one: the Slam Dunk Contest.

Dunking has always been my favorite part of basketball. As a kid, I tried to replicate all of the crazy dunks I saw on TV. There’s something so iconic about the 360s and windmills that made me love basketball.

But in years since, watching the Contest hasn’t felt the same. The event used to be filled with stars and excitement; now it feels uninspired and lacks creativity.

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This year, I thought it would be different — All-Star Boston forward Jaylen Brown would join the mix, and the competition would finally return to its glory days. Yet, we were let down. Again.

For the first few minutes, the contest finally started looking like something special. While I was impressed with the athleticism of many players from the get-go, particularly Knicks forward Jacob Toppin and Magic guard Mac McClung, it was too obvious McClung would win. That was the main issue with the contest: a lack of competitiveness.

When McClung was revealed as the winner, no one was surprised. While he wowed the audience with the most exciting and eye-catching slams, it felt like the other competitors weren’t even trying to challenge him. Compared to watching a player barely 6 feet tall do a double clutch backward dunk over 7-foot center Shaquille O’Neal, it just wasn’t exciting to watch a guy one-hand dunk over his teammate.

I understand the excuse that there are only so many unique dunks before it gets redundant, but I still miss back when everything felt embedded with personality. Maybe I sound like I’m hanging onto the past, but every dunk back then was memorable in ways we don’t see today. I remember watching Dwight Howard don a Superman cape and watching Blake Griffin jump over a Kia — fun gimmicks that made each dunk fun. In comparison, today’s version of the contest feels completely washed, lacking any sense of the distinctiveness that made old dunks feel iconic.

Number two: The All-Star Game.

The All-Star Game, in theory, is the coalition of basketball’s greatest talents going head-to-head on the court. But this year, the game was a contest of which team could put on the laziest show possible.

For several years, there’s been a problem with the All-Star Game: Nobody tries anymore. With injuries being a big risk for players, they don’t want to play hard in a game with no particular incentive to win. This year wasn’t any different.

The game ended 186–211, the greatest amount of points scored in an NBA basketball game ever. For the first time in history, the scoreboard exceeded 200 points. While some see this as a record-breaking achievement, I see it as a sign that players aren’t trying hard enough.

At halftime, the score was 104–89 — numbers seen usually by the end of the game, not halfway. Throughout the whole game, players were scoring automatically, with all-time records being broken with the amount of 3-pointers made and the amount of field goals made.

With all that scoring, there was very little on defense with a lackluster 14 steals and only 3 blocks. For the most talented basketball game in the world, you would expect a little more effort to put into making everything competitive. Disappointingly, there was none of that. In the best game of basketball in the world, nobody’s even trying.

While I get that making the All-Star Weekend top-notch doesn’t need to be the NBA’s priority, there’s no doubt more effort needs to be put into the events. As fans, we grow attached to our favorite players, and to see those players go head-to-head is a dream come true. But when there are no stakes and no meaningful rewards, it becomes a lifeless contest ridden of any entertainment.

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Tyler Elman
Tyler Elman, Staff Writer

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