Monday, February 21, 2011

All-Star Weekend notes

The NBA has created a circus-like atmosphere to the All-Star weekend's Slam-Dunk contest, a scene that would make P.T. Barnum smile. Somehow, the art of making a dunk look spectacular had gotten lost in the loud music, choir singers, banner carriers and screaming TV analysts.
Blake Griffin's 360-spin was outstanding but his slam after leaping over the hood of a compact car bordered on a stunt right of a Barnum's playbook.
What's next? Dropping Dwight Howard out of the rafters and have him stuff the ball in the basket on the way down?
The Slam Dunk and the three-point shooting contests are the NBA's answer to baseball's Home Run Derby show at its All-Star festival. The league should stay away from the goofiness and let the players create their own magic.


add All-Star show: Was it just my imagination or did Rihanna borrow a move from the late Michael Jackson and rub her crotch (several times) during her performance at halftime? I know it's cable but it's a good bet TNT executives are reviewing the video tape.


add Griffin: It's evident that the meteoric rise of the Clippers' young center has taken many in the league by surprise, judging from comments from veteran observers such as Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. One analyst wondered if it would be this way for Griffin if Mike Dunleavy were still the Clippers' coach? Dunleavy liked a slow tempo, half-court game with little fast-break and open-court opportunities, the kind that Griffin gets with new coach Vinny del Negro.
last add Weekend: In a town where star-power is king, golf's Northern Trust Open went lacking for it at Riviera Country Club for four days, with 51-year-old Fred Couples providing the only hint of glamor on an otherwise nameless leaderboard. If the tournament has to rely on players such as Couples, with his bad back and graying hair, to bring in the paying customers, then the tournament is in trouble. It's true that Phil Mickelson was in the field, but he finished 11 shots behind the winner, little-known Aaron Baddeley of Australia, who hadn't won a tournament in two years. Bubba Watson, who leaped into the star category after winning in San Diego, lasted just one round, and had to pull out with a stomach injury, leaving Mickelson, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh among the few big names.
The L.A. stop on the PGA tour used to me a "must" but now it seems it is turning into a "must miss." One of the problems is the traffic on L.A.'s Westside. The only way to the course is to travel on Sunset Boulevard, which is a nightmare most days because of a construction project at the San Diego freeway. Sometimes it takes an hour just to go a few miles.
Unless you are Corey Pavin, who lives a few blocks from Riviera, or you know somebody who does, most players have to find lodging at hotels that are miles away. The logistics for players and their families, most of whom have little children, aren't friendly.
Maybe Northern Trust should find a new venue where these problems don't exist. Then, maybe, the stars might come out.

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