I was on press row in Orlando, drawing doodles and scratching numbers on my notepad, during the 1992 NBA All-Star Weekend 3-point competition.
“What are you writing down?” said a writer next to me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Junk.”
“Why are you doing it?”
“I’m trying to look busy.”
“Why are we even watching this?” he said.
“You got me,” I said.
Thus began a friendship with Jim Moore, then a beat writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and now an on-air personality for 710 ESPN Seattle. He’s still my journalistic role model.
I bring this up because Sunday was the NBA All-Star Game and I was thinking I should watch it on TV. Then I realized there wasn’t much reason for watching back in 1992. Has anything changed?
On the TV highlights I saw just what I expected: a lot of goofy set-up dunks, no defense, and a silly exhibition staged merely for the revenue.
The year after Orlando, Salt Lake hosted the All-Star Game. It was the same nuttiness. Teams fooled around for 44 minutes, then buckled down hard enough to send it into overtime. The OT was better played, but still they were going at two-thirds speed. I know because I was sitting on the front row.
To make it even more contrived, Karl Malone and John Stockton were co-MVPs. How convenient, kind of like 1987 when Tom Chambers was MVP in Seattle, 1988 when Michael Jordan was MVP in Chicago, and 1972, 2004 and 2011 when Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were MVP’s in Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin got eight dunks on Sunday – in the first quarter.
I don’t blame the players. They don’t want to be there, except that it’s a bargaining chip in contract negotiations. But they don’t want to get hurt fooling around in an exhibition game, either. As for the public, do real basketball fans actually want to watch that?
How about just flying the players to someplace sunny every February and having them sign a autographs for a couple of hours? Fans could see the stars all in one place and the players could skip the pretend game.
Better yet, why not just give them the week off? The NBA season is too long anyway.
I’ll give the NBA one thing: by seating me next to Moore, it provided me with one of my favorite sports writing memories.
Here’s to paying no attention at all.