All-star Weekend. For most sports, it represents a display of that sport’s best of the best. A chance where we can see two dream teams compete in a glamorous exhibition. It also serves as a “halftime” for the regular season (except in football) where most players get a chance to take some time off and recuperate. Basketball’s all-star weekend, however, is the best of all sports because it caters to us, the fans.
As fans, we are excited by the big play. In football, it’s the big touchdown. In baseball, it’s the home run. In basketball, it’s the dunk. Unfortunately, hockey doesn’t have enough exciting plays. Basketball’s all-star game more so than any other showcases the big play throughout the game. It’s a game where we watch the best players in the world throw each other alley oops, set up tomahawk jams,and go out of their way to dunk the ball. Even the defenders get out of the way enabling the big play to occur.
Football has pretty much outted itself when it comes to supporting its all-star game, the Pro Bowl. First of all, the Pro Bowl is the only all-star game that takes place after the season is over. It’s a little anticlimactic. It’s similar to eating a delicious steak for dinner, then having the appetizer brought out after. It just doesn’t work well with my appetite. Secondly, many of the top players opt out of playing in the Pro Bowl citing serious injuries such as a jammed pinky toe or a sore belly button. If the top players of the game consistently don’t want to play in the Pro Bowl, how can it be considered the best all-star game in all sports? No thank you.
With hockey and football eliminated of the four major sports, it comes down to basketball and baseball for the best all-star setup.
Each sport showcases a competition of its big play, the home run derby versus the slam dunk contest. To see the top players slugging out home runs is a spectacle. And although the dunk contest is not what it used to be, it still is exciting to watch high-flying athletes think of new and creative ways to dunk a basketball. Also, basketball has the three-point contest and skills challenge to complement its all-star game. More events for fans to enjoy, more reason why basketball has the best all-star setup.
What separates basketball’s all-star game from the others, however, is simple: the game itself. Basketball, more than any other sport, allows for creativity and improvisation during a game. Basketball players during the all-star game do things they cannot attempt during a normal game. If they try to do a 360 windmill dunk during a game and miss, most coaches will bench that player. In the all-star game, it is encouraged. Dribbling between defenders’ legs, no-look passes and off-the-backboard dunks are common in the all-star game where normally if you see it once, it’s considered lucky.
Baseball, however, does not allow this customized deviation from the game. Pitchers cannot throw half as hard because fans want to see them throw as hard as their grandmothers. It doesn’t work that way. Hitters can’t close their eyes during an at bat. Outfielders can’t bare hand a fly ball while running toward the fence. It just cannot and does not happen. The game is played similarly to how it is played during the regular season. The teams are more talented, yes, but the game is still played like a battle between division bottom dwellers.
Basketball’s all-star game is a once-a-year exhibition where the game resembles a video game we played when we were kids. A game where dunks and threes reign supreme. The game is meant to entertain the fans to the highest degree and the nature of the game allows it. Sorry hockey fans, but the all-star setup for basketball provides the perfect break during a season, filled with excitement, entertainment, and plays we only dream of.
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