1. Based on the level of competition and the revised format, should LeBron James change his mind about participating in the Slam Dunk Contest?
Diego Quezada: LeBron James should not change his mind about competing in the Dunk Contest. If there was a year for him to do it, it was 2011, fresh off "The Decision," against Blake Griffin in Los Angeles. But now with the nation's change of heart, two rings and four MVPs, LeBron has nothing to gain from competing. It's a contrived, outdated competition. When people bring up Kobe Bryant's historical place among NBA greats, does anyone mention that he won the Slam Dunk Contest as a young player? People have pressured LeBron to join in the Dunk Contest for years, and I don't understand how a revised format would make him any more inclined to do so this year. Anyone can watch ridiculous LeBron James dunks on YouTube, so we don't need a national format to see him. I'm only 21 years old, so the Dunk Contest has never meant anything to me as long as I've been an NBA fan. I've always found the 3-Point Contest more exciting.
Surya Fernandez: I'm fine either way with his "decision" on this. There are good arguments on both sides as to why he should or shouldn't do it. Of course it would be exciting to see him in his prime pulling off some spectacular dunks and pull out the victory just like other greats such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dominique Wilkins and of course Harold Miner. But if he loses out on the title, it just doesn't look good. Everyone knows he's a great dunker, so he has a lot more to lose than to gain by participating. But hey, Heat fans are spoiled and get to watch his greatest dunks when they actually count for something.
David Ramil: Without a doubt. If anything, his in-practice dunkfest has just teased the fans even more. I used to think it was a lose-lose situation for him - if he loses, he's open to mockery but if he wins, it's because he was supposed to - but the contest and the whole weekend is to entertain the fans. This would be the most entertaining and highly-watched event in All-Star Game history.
Reece Helms: Every single year around the All-Star break....this question comes up. If I was LeBron James, I wouldn't even consider it, and that seems to be how he feels about it too, but what he's been doing hasn't been helping his case. As entertaining as his "dunks in practice" were.....it just added more fuel to the fire for this question to come up again.
Next year LeBron will be 30, there's no age limit for the dunk contest....but 30 might be too old to be in the dunk contest. If he was ever going to be in it, he would've participated in one YEARS ago, when he was in his young 20s, not in his late 20s.
And when it comes to the level of competition, it's almost a no-win situation for LeBron. If he wins....well, he was supposed to. He w was going against a bunch of scrubs. On the other hand, if he loses...well, you'd hear "He's an overrated dunker, he couldn't even beat the no-name players in the dunk contest." In conclusion, that's what I believe has held LeBron back from joining the dunk contest....the fear of losing it.
2. Dwyane Wade has missed significant time this season but was voted in to the ASG. Should he follow Kobe's example and bow out of the game?
Reece: I'm not a huge fan of the ASG voting setup. Kobe Bryant could not only be injured, but not even show up to a Lakers game all season long, and still lead the league in ASG votes....basically, he doesn't have to earn his spot in the ASG, it's a given he will at least be named to the team, no matter how bad he plays, or if he doesn't play at all.
To answer the question, if I was Dwyane Wade, the only way I "bow out" of the game, is if I feel like I wouldn't be able to perform some highlight plays. Because, at the end of the day, that's what the ASG is all about. It's all about the awesome dunks and highlight plays, if Wade feels he wouldn't be able to perform at his best ability, then it's best for him to bow out of the game, and wear a suit instead of the ugly sleeved jerseys the NBA has planned for this years ASG.
Surya: If he's sufficiently recovered from his drop foot ailment and his knees are fine then I don't see any harm with him starting and playing around 10-15 minutes. Yes, he's missed plenty of games so far this season but Kobe doesn't deserve to play in this game even if he was currently healthy because he's barely played at all. As for Wade, it might be a good thing for his body to get some light basketball activity instead of shutting down for several days between Heat games.
David: It's less about following Kobe's example and more about staying true to his "maintenance plan." If he's truly gauging his minutes to be at peak form in the playoffs, he just shouldn't play. It's too late now but he should have bowed out as soon as the selection was announced. But D-Wade loves to put on a good show and I guess he couldn't resist the chance (possibly the last?) to entertain the masses.
Diego: Kobe Bryant played in just six games this season; Dwyane Wade has played in 36 games. One could certainly argue that John Wall deserves the starting spot considering Washington's improvement - an argument I am sympathetic towards - but Wade should only bow out if he still needs to recover from an injury. He's still shooting 55 percent from the floor and has put together some remarkable games - like his 32-point outburst in Miami's win over the Indiana Pacers in December. That's way more than I can say for Kobe Bryant.
3. Should the NBA follow MLB's model and have the result of the ASG game make an impact on the postseason?
Reece: Before I answer this question in any extensive detail, let me just give my answer......NO!!!! I am not a fan of the MLB's All Star Game, when it decides who has the home-field advantage in the World Series. Does it add meaning to the game? Yes. But is it really necessary....should the World Series really be impacted by what happened during an All Star game? Which, at the end of the day, is just an exhibition game? NO, it shouldn't. The NBA ASG is very entertaining, and it should be kept at that. Please, David Stern....um....I mean Adam Silver, please don't follow in the MLB All Star Game's path.
Surya: No way, I hate the MLB's model so I wouldn't want it anywhere near the NBA. This is just an exhibition game and the players treat it as such anyway.
Diego: Hell, no. If I had it my way, there wouldn't even be an All-Star Game. I don't even watch it - expect for when it gets close - simply because it's not good basketball. We see a bunch of hung-over players get out of each other's way for the first three quarters and then might see some real competition for a few minutes. Is that what anyone wants to see when bringing together all the best players in the game? The idea of the All-Star Game - a format to watch all of the stars play in one night - is now antiquated with television, League Pass and YouTube enabling fans to watch any and all stars whenever they play. To me, the All-Star Game is only a slight upgrade on the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge, which is unwatchable.
David: Absolutely! Like the NFL's Pro Bowl, I think the ASG loses some luster with every year. It's still about seeing the best players out on the court but having them compete for something, even if just at 75%, would be great. Up the stakes a little, Commissioner Silver - the winner gets home court for the Finals. LeBron would tear up the competition with that at stake.
4. The Miami Heat have had some great moments during past All-Star weekends? What's your favorite?
David: That's a tough one, although I give the nod to Glen Rice winning the 3-point Shootout in 1995. As a small market team still trying to shake the stigma of being an expansion team, Rice's performance legitimized the Heat as team and, specifically, "G-Money" as a bonafide star.
Diego: I intermittently watched the 2010 All-Star Game, and it was great to see Wade play so well in that game and win his first and only All-Star Game MVP. During a few stretches of that second half, we also got some real solid play from Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh. As the 9-8 start to the 2010-11 season indicated, the Big Three would need to have some time to gel. But it was good to see my favorite player more than hold his own against the game's best. I always like watching the 3-Point Contest, and seeing James Jones, Daequan Cook and Jason Kapono win it was exciting.
Reece: Yes, the Miami Heat have had many great All-Star game moments, including four different 3 point shooting champions. Last year, the Heat had 3 of their players START for the East (LeBron, Wade, and Bosh) and had their head coach Erik Spoelstra coaching the East. That was really cool, for me, that was one of my favorite moments. James Jones edging out the greatest 3 point shooter of all time (Ray Allen) in the 3 point contest a few years ago was very fun to watch.
Surya: Glen Rice's victory in the 3-Point Shootout comes to mind, but every time a Heat player has won that has been memorable in its own way. Wade winning the All-Star Game MVP in 2010 as well. Actually, re-watching the 2010 All-Star game right after the Big 3 was formed and cutting together the highlights to get a bit of an idea of how they would play together was really cool too.
5. Are there any Heat players you would have like to have seen participating in the 3-Point Shootout or Dunk Contest (besides LeBron)?
Surya: I think it would have been nice to see Ray Allen in the 3-Point Shootout one last time. However, I don't think it's reasonable to expect him back in the Slam Dunk Contest (yes, he was in it once).
Diego: Looking at the winners, I was very surprised to see that Ray Allen has only won the competition once, in 2001. I'd like to see Allen again in the 3-Point Shootout so he can add to the Heat's winners in that competition.
Reece: Unfortunately, we will never see LeBron James in a dunk contest, which is a very sad thing, but it's his decision, and I respect his decision. But, there isn't any other player on the Heat roster that could've been in the dunk contest this year. I've heard Birdman is an underrated dunker, but I don't think he's dunk contest material. Michael Beasley is also talented, but I'm not sure he would have a chance to win.
For the 3 point contest, I think Ray Allen should've been in the dunk contest EVERY YEAR! He's the greatest 3 point shooter in NBA history (maybe besides Reggie Miller) but the 3 point contest isn't like the dunk contest. It doesn't take a lot of thought, and creativity. It doesn't take a lot of work and there isn't as much pressure. You just gotta shoot 3's, and whoever makes the most wins and goes home with the trophy. Ray Allen is good enough to where he would be the favorite to win almost every year. I would've liked to see him in the contest not only this year, but every year.
David: I think having Ray Allen in the Shootout would have been great. He's arguable the best shooter of all time and he should defend that title until he no longer can. Having him win it as a member of the Heat would be the perfect bookend to his Game 6 shot in the NBA Finals. For fans that don't get to see Ray work day-in and day-out, seeing his perfect shooting stroke on display would be a treat. Then again, if he had remained with Boston, I would never have admitted this publicly...