NBA All-Star Weekend brings NBA players to Orlando, Fla., to celebrate the game of basketball. Its manner of celebrating, however, might make Dr. James Naismith cringe. Here's our attempt to lower your expectations:
The traditional rookie-sophomore game has been scrapped in favor of two teams of first- and second-year players "drafted" by former stars Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal. To no one's surprise, Jeremy Lin was ushered onto a roster (Shaq's) for the event (Fri., 9 p.m. on TNT).
Saturday night (8:30 p.m. on TNT) kicks off with the Shooting Stars competition. The cringe-worthy contest features a current NBA player, a former NBA player and a WNBA player from the same city. The Slam Dunk contest has provided thrilling moments, with Michael Jordan (30.1 career points per game) among its winners. This year's dunkers include Utah rookie Jeremy Evans (27 career points). Among the participants in this year's 3-Point Shootout, just one (Orlando's Ryan Anderson) has a 3-point shooting percentage among the NBA's top 20. The most star-studded of Saturday's events is the Skills Challenge: point guards dribbling around cones like 12-year-olds at a summer basketball camp. Two-time MVP Steve Nash will probably be thinking that the cones play better defense than his Phoenix Suns teammates.
The 24 stars playing in the All-Star Game (Sun., 6 p.m. on TNT) are exhausted by this shortened season's pace. Expect some monster reverse layups.