Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can the NBA All Stars Still Improve?

You live life trying to go from one experience to another making every effort to keep it exciting and interesting.  The 2008 All Star Weekend was a good learning and enjoyable one for me.  Going to the NBA All Stars for the 3rd time was in a way something that didn't excite me as much as it did the first time out but there are always new things that come up that make it as interesting.

We had a lot of activities and media events to meet the players of course but as a fan, just watching the greatest basketball players in the world live a few feet away is just plain awesome.  Every time you're standing there right beside Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Lebron James and other all stars.  And to see them do their thing right in front of you?  I literally was pinching myself every few 

minutes just to make sure it was for real.  The hardest part of doing the coverage for a game like this is to make sure you don't sound star struck knowing these players are larger than life.

We arrived on Valentine's Day.  I was with officemates Martin, Chum, and Andrew along with legendary sports analyst Andy "Dr. J" Jao.  Odette Velarde from Adidas Philippines also joined us and she brought along media personality Mo Twister as a media companion.  Martin, Dr. J, and I have been before but I think it was the first allstars for the others.  We soaked in the culture of New Orleans going to Bourbon Street, taking the steamboat tour and trying the world famous southern food the city is famous for.  We also got to help out a little with rebuilding some houses in the Holy Cross area, the most affected by hurricane Katrina.  Solar's COO Peter Chanliong and CFO Ronald Tieng joined us a day later. 

Overall, there really is very little to improve with the All Star Weekend.  The NBA puts together the best All Star event among all the major sports in the U.S.  It seemed there were a number of events going on at any given time leading up to the main events in the evening.  The Rookie Challenge, All Star Saturday, and the game itself are all very entertaining.  They treat the media right.  They treat the fans right.  And they treat the city right.  The magnitude of what happens can hardly be described through television or personal accounts.  It is a massive undertaking showcasing the best there is for basketball entertainment.  The players actually like going to the All Star Weekend unlike the other sports.  

If there was one thing they should consider that might make the event more interesting, it would be to give more of an incentive to the winner of the All Star game.  I think in basketball more than any other sport, home court advantage matters.  The fans are up close and personal.  You can hear most of them and the noise level since it's indoors can be deafening.  This is reason that if the NBA awards home court advantage in the Finals to the Conference (East or West) who wins, the players would up the level in taking the game seriously.  Most of the All Stars are from winning teams who have a legitimate shot at the Finals so it will matter to most players.  We can now see intensity not just in the 4th quarter but throughout the game itself.  As a serious basketball fan, I would certainly enjoy watching it more.

Most agreed that it was the best All Star Weekend in many years with Dwight Howard showing a lot of showmanship winning the Slam Dunk contest and the game being decided in the last minute with Lebron and home town players Chris Paul going at it in the end.  This is the pinnacle of Basketball Entertainment... Good players, unlimited resources and highly qualified people running the event.  In the end, this All Star ended up even more exciting and enjoyable as my first.