We have a special edition of the Blazer's Edge Mailbag today...one in which I'm asking you a question. SBNation's NBA blogs will all run special features tomorrow commemorating the final day of David Stern's tenure as NBA Commissioner. Each site will provide perspective on Stern's legacy from the viewpoint of their particular fanbase. That legacy could be positive, negative, or a mix of both depending on how folks perceive the commissioner impacting the franchise. I could take a stab at writing an essay all on my own but I'd prefer to ask you for input first. So here's the first Mailbag question of the day:
Dear Blazer's Edge Readers,
How will you remember David Stern's tenure as NBA Commissioner and which parts of his legacy have impacted the Portland Trail Blazers most?
Please answer in the comment section.
So you don't feel totally left out, here are a couple questions on the All-Star game.
Why hasn't Portland ever hosted the All-Star game and do you see Portland getting the chance to?
For yeas the official excuse has been "not enough hotel space". I guess that might fly? I don't have the numbers. I do know Salt Lake City hosted in 1993. They can't be that much bigger than Portland, can they? Sacramento is the only other long-tenured NBA franchise that hasn't hosted a game.
I don't see Portland's chances of hosting as good. This isn't an egalitarian league. It's about numbers and what's best for the logo. Portland is seen as an out-of-the-way burg on the edges of NBA relevance. I'm not sure why the league would decide to come here when it's rejected the city for decades. Maybe featuring a new arena might spur the process? Winning a title might also remind people that Portland exists. But even then I'm not sure it's enough even if the Blazers put a major push behind the idea.
I am wondering if the Blazers will have any players participating in the 3 point shootout this year. I can't remember ever seeing a Blazer participating (probably not in the last 20 years!). This is a category where we have several players who could compete. Though not important in the scheme of things, these All Star weekend activities can help the team gain some national exposure, which is always good for a team in our position. Lillard in the skills competition was great last year... How about it? Wes? Damian?
Ramon (not Mike)
The lineups haven't been announced yet but Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has published a report that the early invites for the West are Steph Curry, Kevin Love, and Marco Belinelli while the East will be represented by Kyrie Irving, Kyle Korver, and a player yet to be decided. No Blazers populate that list. You'd like to see Wesley Matthews considered, especially since his stand-still shooting style is right for the exercise. But Wes Money's percentage from beyond the arc has fallen off to 41.5%. Even though Kevin Love is a stunt selection (he shoots 37.5%) eliminating him from consideration would still leave Belinelli, Jose Calderon, Mike Miller, Richard Jefferson, Patty Mills, Andre Iguodala, Channing Frye, and Kevin Durant ahead of Matthews among fairly-frequent three-point shooters in the West. So I'm guessing it won't happen.
My question is about the all-star weekend.
I get the impression these days that the all-star game is becoming a non event for basketball fans. It appears it has less to do with the actual game, and more to do with a sort of festival about the league.
Firstly, a bit of background on myself to give some context to my comments. I live in Australia, and we are a sports loving people. But what drives us most is our competitive nature in our sports, no matter what the odds, we as a people are always willing to "give it a go". It could be said that we have derived a cultural identity on "giving it a go". Which leads me to my point, in regards to the all-star game, there is very little in the way of competitiveness, which in turn garners very little interest from this fan.
I would like to put forward an idea, which I believe could improve the all-star game. It is based on a sporting event here in Australia, from one of our football codes. Rugby league has a yearly event called "State of Origin", in which two teams are selected to compete against each other in a best of three series. The teams can only pick from players that were born in their respective state. This series captures the interest not only from fans, but from all the public in those states, and it is a matter of pride.
I would like the all-star game to follow a similar principle. Instead of selecting players from what conference their team is, put a big line down the middle of the country, and choose players based on where they were born. This, I hope would instill a notion of pride, not only from the individual player, but from the whole nation. You could still divide the country from east to west, or north and south. I know only a little of american history, but the lines between north and south seem provocative to me, based on what little I know. I apologize if this seems insensitive, it is hard to pick up local cultural nuances from half a world away, just thinking on a way to garner real passion in the contest.
What say you Dave? Would this be something that people would go for?
I could see shaking up the All-Star format some but what you're suggesting wouldn't really work from a cultural or competitive perspective.
Being born somewhere doesn't necessarily follow you in America. There are exceptions. Because of the long lineage of NBA point guards in the Bay Area Portland's own Damian Lillard is associated far more with Oakland, California than with Ogden, Utah where he played college ball. But for most players that's reversed. Nobody knows where they came from. People only know where they've plied their trade, either NCAA or in the pros. Plus what would you do with European, Asian, or African players in this increasingly-international league?
The north and south deal doesn't work either. You'd have a hard time bisecting the country in that direction since most of the hard geographical markers (Rocky Mountains, major rivers) run vertically, not horizontally. Plus the "South" you're referencing only really applied to a pocket of states in the southeast, at least in the popular lexicon. Nobody cares that Utah, Arizona, and California lie in the southern part of the country. Any distinction between them and Washington or the Dakotas would be artificial.
Even if you kept the scheme East-West you have to deal with the possibility of imbalanced competition. What if, by some twist of fate, the three best players in the land were all born in the East? Even watching LeBron James and Kevin Durant on the same side would take away the edge from the game. Plus you'd routinely get 10th, 11th, and 12th men selected by place of origin rather than true All-Star worthiness.
If the system is going to be changed I'd prefer to explore what the NFL is doing, setting the pool of All-Stars and then drafting two teams from that pool. That would lead to one heck of a conversation. Do you draft Durant or LeBron first? You'd rob the game of its natural affiliation with geography but if you wanted to preserve that, simply name them "East" and "West" and designate one charity on each side of the line that the teams are playing for...an East Coast-based charity and a Western one. The geography is inherent in what the players are playing for rather than where they're from. The charity of the winning team gets $100,000 from the league, the losing charity $50,000. If the players want to mensch up the losers could donate $5,000 from each of their appearance fees to make up the difference. This would make more sense than origin or a re-division.
Keep those questions coming and make sure to chime in on the Stern topic below!