On the Sunday night between the AFC and NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl, the two contests competing against each other on the television sets of most fans were the NHL All-Star games and the Pro Bowl.
I wrote my column the following Monday and which game had won my favor (the NHL All-Star game) and how the NHL made me a fan again, not just with their mini-tournament on Sunday, but with their All-Star Saturday night events.
I legitimately thought that the NHL may have jumped the NBA in terms of All-Star festivities. After what I just watched this past weekend though, there’s no way I can say that.
I’ll give props to the NHL. They made improvements, and there is no doubt that they have a better product now because of it.
The MLB All-Star festivities are great, too. The Home Run Derby is unlike anything else in sports, and the fact that the All-Star game means something, as stupid as it may be, actually forces the players to try, creating a better product.
But after an All-Star weekend like the NBA just had, it’s hard for me to say that’s there’s a better All-Star weekend out there.
First of all, the NBA has a three-day All-Star weekend, something no other sport has, at least in terms of televised events. On Friday, you have the Celebrity All-Star game and the Rising Stars game. Then, on Saturday, there’s the Skills Challenge, the Three-Point Contest and the Dunk Contest. Lastly, on Sunday, the actual All-Star game is played.
The Celebrity Game and Rising Stars game is fun, but nothing compares to All-Star Saturday night.
Similar to the NHL, the NBA made the changes necessary to make each event as fun and exciting as possible.
In recent years, the NBA has added head-to-head contests and big men to the Skills Challenge; a rack of only moneyballs to the Three-Point Contest; eliminated the Shooting Stars competition and messed around with the Dunk Contest, ultimately deciding upon the current format.
It all built up to a super fun Saturday night with Karl Anthony-Towns winning the Skills Challenge; Klay Thompson beating out his own teammate on the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry, in the Three-Point Contest; and of course, the Slam Dunk Contest, which left us with arguably the greatest dunk contest performances we’ve ever seen from Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine.
If the NBA can somehow find a way to make the actual All-Star game competitive, it’s going to be hard for the NHL, MLB and NFL to ever match the excitement.