NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, and we're all already starting to look forward to the trade deadline that's just a few days away. But first it seems important to take a look back at what we learned from the stellar three days of events.
With the NBA Celebrity Game kicking off the weekend to nobody's excitement, and then the Rising Stars Challenge rising to tremendous heights with Kenneth Faried putting on a show, we were ready for the rest of the weekend's festivities.
All-Star Saturday Night was met with mixed reviews, as the excitement inside the Toyota Center wasn't quite up to par. But looking back, I think we can remember what actually happened as being a lot more exciting than it was on the night that it actually happened.
Of course, the main attraction, Sunday night's All-Star Game, was what we always remembered it was.
There was a lot of excitement, a ton of dunks and, in the end, it was a fun exhibition between the NBA's best.
So, let's take a look at what we saw throughout the weekend and decipher what we can take away from the past three days.
I'm fine with having Kevin Hart ham it up during the first game of the weekend, and I do enjoy seeing a few WNBA players and NBA legends joining in on the fun, but the "celebrity" part of the celebrity game is starting to get a bit questionable.
Usain Bolt was interesting to see, and guys like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Common were worthwhile with their productive play.
However, if I have to see Ne-Yo come out again next year and hit the underside of the rim another half dozen times, or watch Josh Hutcherson put up three-point set shots, I don't think I'm going to be able to deal with Kevin Hart's squealing yet again.
Plus, it seems as if we're stretching the definition of "celebrity" a bit if TV personality Terrence Jenkins and ABC News' John Schriffen are considered worthy candidates.
Generally speaking, the guy who ends up winning the Rising Stars Challenge MVP award is some wing who ends up hitting six or seven three-pointers in an eight-minute stretch sometime late in the game.
It's even more of an effortless game than Sunday night's weekend capper, when there are at least one or two guys trying to prove something and go for the MVP award.
Kenneth Faried showed us what trying looks like in Friday night's Rising Stars matchup.
He put down 40 points, seemingly all of them on fast-break dunks or throw-downs in traffic. On top of it all, Faried pulled in 10 rebounds (seven offensive) and led Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory over Team Shaq.
I may be the only person on the planet with this thought, but I'm actually a fan of the Shooting Stars Competition.
Sure, there's no skill to it really, it just depends on who makes the half-court shot before the other teams, but there's something slightly entertaining about it.
The Skills Competition, on the other hand, has become just another thing keeping us from seeing the Slam Dunk Contest.
There once was a time when guys were sprinting through obstacles and shooting one ball right after the other, rather than standing and watching to see if their shot went in.
For four years running, the winner registered a time of under 27 seconds. And then it seems like guys just stopped caring.
Sure, there was usually one or two young guys who were obviously trying harder than the rest, but the bulk of the players look to be indifferent throughout most of the competition.
You know who I think of when people start talking about frivolous basketball competitions? Fall Out Boy and Phillip Phillips.
Wait, that's not right.
I'm not a huge fan of will.i.am or Fergie, but something about those guys singing really holds the energy over from competition to competition more so than some guy playing a cello.
The music on Saturday night may very well have been the biggest flop of the evening, which is definitely saying something.
For the record, seeing Yao Ming, Rudy Tomjanovich and Dikembe Mutombo at the judges' table during the Slam Dunk Contest was really cool, but the way they were throwing up scores was quite ridiculous.
It seemed evident that a solid dunk was going to going to grab a 40, a really good dunk would get a 50, and a perfect dunk would lead to Mutombo and Yao square-dancing together at half court.
Three dunks were given perfect scores in the first two rounds, while another was given a 49.
Even crazier, twice guys failed to register any kind of dunk, which normally would give them a minimum score of 30. Both players walked away with scores higher than 30.
It seems incredibly difficult to believe that Yao Ming knows how hard it is to dunk between his legs compared to catching a ball from the side of the backboard and slamming it home. The contest really needs guys who were dunkers to judge this thing for any kind of real legitimacy.
Every once in a while, an All-Star Game will involve a player who thoroughly embarrasses himself and ends up being the butt of all kinds of jokes.
This year, that player was Chris Bosh.
— Taco Trey Kerby (@treykerby) February 18, 2013
It's far too early to even remotely think that it's time for him to take the all-time award away from Chris Andersen for his blunder of a Slam Dunk Contest back in 2005, but he was pretty close.
There's no reason to think that this couldn't happen year after year, so I'm ready to see Chris Bosh in every All-Star Game from now until the day he retires.
The West was up by eight points and had just quelled a run by the East, pushing the lead to a near-insurmountable point.
As the East was looking to try to narrow the gap yet again, LeBron James found himself with the ball right around the free-throw line, squared up to shoot and Kobe found his hand in the right place at the right time.
He sent the shot the other way, Kevin Durant picked the ball up and took it the other way for an easy fast-break dunk.
It was a superfluous moment in the game, yet it suddenly became the defining moment of the weekend, and somehow a part of the narrative of the LeBron James-Kobe Bryant rivalry.
All-Star Saturday Night ended up turning a lot of people off with the subpar level of excitement throughout.
Though the dunk contest was great, there was just something that wasn't on par with some of the best from years past.
If you don't believe me, just go back and take a look at the dunks from the night—they were all legitimately terrific dunks. There was just no buzz in the arena, and there was a constant downpour of derision from Charles Barkley.
Maybe they need to make the tickets cheaper so the people who will go crazy for each dunk are sitting closer to the action.
If that doesn't work out, then perhaps it's time to expand the contest. The answer isn't necessarily adding more players, but including the winner of the D-League contest would be cool, as would the inclusion of an outside player/dunker (a streetballer perhaps).
Finally, it might be best to get the Inside the NBA guys away from the broadcast table. They either spend the entire time talking about why the contests from the '80s were better, or why a particular dunk wasn't very good.
That's not exactly conducive to exciting the audience at home.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love aren't just Uncle Drew and Wes; they're the owners of the past two 3-Point Contests.
Love won in 2012 with a victory over Kevin Durant in a tie-breaker, putting together one of the most fun 3-Point Contests in recent memory.
Irving won this year's competition with 23 points in the final round (just two points from the all-time record).
One can only believe that Love, who missed this year's competition with an injury, will be back for 2014's to take on Irving in a true championship showdown.
For a few minutes in the fourth quarter, Kyrie Irving was going head-to-head with Chris Paul, and it was phenomenal.
Irving hit a few three-pointers, Paul drove past Irving a few times to the hoop and it all culminated with a strange, anti-climactic jump-ball situation as the two stared head-on at each other for a few seconds.
Chris Paul took home the game MVP award, and Kyrie Irving looked on from the losing side as Paul hoisted the trophy over his head.
Without trying to forge a storyline out of the few knowing looks they gave each other during the game, this has officially become one of the most intriguing matchups in the NBA.
Sure, you can still make a case that Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are better point guards than Irving for the time being, but as far as point guards with similar style goes, it's Rose vs. Westbrook and Irving vs. Paul.
So look forward to it for the next few years, because the kid with two last names and the veteran with two first names are going to be going at it for years to come.