8p9s Roundtable: All-Star Weekend
We’re headed to New Orleans. At this year’s midseason festivities, the Pacers will have a large presence. Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Frank Vogel and Indiana’s assistant coaches (Dan Burke, Nate McMillan, and Popeye Jones) will all be there for the big game, and George will try again to win the Slam Dunk contest.
With that in mind, we look at some of the relevant questions for All-Star Weekend.
1. If you were his Dunk Contest coach, what one dunk would you tell Paul George to try to pull off?
Dave Searle: Dunk over Bird. What would be more incredible than that? Imagine this: Mr. Bird, wearing a turtleneck and blazer, stands under the hoop with his arms folded. Classic Bird scowl on his face. Paul George dunks over him in typical spectacular fashion. We check the replay in slow-mo for Larry’s reaction. “He didn’t flinch! He didn’t move! Larry Bird didn’t even blink!” Amazing.
Tim Sartori: 360 between-the-legs. There’s a video on YouYube of George doing it in Shanghai. If he could pull that off as his first dunk on the first attempt, he would have the crowd on his side straight away, probably paired with the classic Kenny Smith “LET’S GO HOOOOOME!” stamp of approval.
Alex Yovanovich: It’s the obvious answer: the 360 Windmill, one of the most breathtaking in-game dunks in quite awhile. Everyone wants to see it again and Paul calls it his “go to move.” So he should use it in the Dunk Contest.
Jon Washburn: I hate props and am a sucker for things that don’t necessarily look super difficult, but are impressive to anyone that has ever played basketball and understands the level of difficulty of certain moves. I would love to see Paul George attempt to go up on one side, tap the ball on the backboard, and then bring it underneath and finish it off with a reverse slam on the other side. I don’t know if it’s even possible — but it would be amazing.
Jalen Bishop: Paul George should attempt Andre Iguodala’s dunk from the 2006 Dunk Contest. Iggy’s one-hand dunk from behind the backboard was insane. Was that a backwards dunk? Paul George is taller and longer than Iggy so he’d extra room for error when attempting. If George completes the dunk within the first two tries, he’ll earn a perfect score.
2. What event do you think should be added to All-Star Weekend?
Searle: Knockout. The classic schoolyard game would be a blast to watch. Let’s make all of the players selected to the Rising Stars Challenge do it. Rookies go first, whittling themselves down to the top three. Sophomores follow until three remain as well. Top six play for all the marbles. Watching Steven Adams hoist a three and awkwardly chase the rebound as Lillard calmly eliminates him would be worth it right there alone.
Sartori: One on one. I can’t see superstars like LeBron or KD going in it for fear of losing and tarnishing their reputations, but hypothetically, wouldn’t it just be the coolest thing to see? I’d rather watch great players go at it one-on-one playing hard over the All-Star Game itself.
Yovanovich: Bring back the H-O-R-S-E competition, with circus shots included. All-Star Weekend is supposed to be all about fun so why not include the same crazy shots that you would use on the playground or in your driveway? In fact, why not make it available to both NBA stars and playground legends.
Washburn: I think H-O-R-S-E would work, but only with two or three numerous and creative shot makers that would talk a lot of smack. I’m thinking a competition with Kevin Love, Steve Nash, and Jamaal Crawford could potentially be all sorts of awesome.
Bishop: Twitter would implode then re-create itself then implode again if 1-on-1 was added as an event. I don’t think many of the stars would do it anyway. However, why not a big-man skills competition? All-Star Weekend is for entertainment. Kendrick Perkins is my first choice as a contestant.
3. What Indiana celebrity, living or dead, would you most like to watch play in the celebrity game?
Searle: I have a choice for both living and dead, and they are both Deans. My dead guy is James Dean. Watching him brood in the corner in tight ’50s satin shorts as Mike Golic hogs the ball in the post would be phenomenal. Speaking of post-hogging, Dean Norris (Breaking Bad‘s ASAC Schrader) seems like he could be a delightful Barkely-esque round mound of rebound.
Sartori: Larry Bird. I don’t know many famous people from Indiana.
Yovanovich: Not very original, but I want to see David Letterman don some baggy shorts and get his shot off in a celebrity game. The Ball State and Broad Ripple High School alum has got to have some game, right?
Washburn: The answer to this question will be Larry Bird as long as he is alive.
Bishop: Larry Bird is too easy of an choice. Let’s get former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle in the celebrity game.
4. Who will Frank Vogel play for the East in crunch time?
Searle: LeBron James is a lock. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are the other two alpha dogs on the East squad, so they will be there. If Dwight or Aldridge plays center for the West down the stretch (and I think one of them will), Hibbert will be out there too. Wade and Irving might beg out of the lineup when the play intensifies due to their relative injuries, leaving John Wall as the fifth man.
Sartori: If he really wants to win? Wall/George/Melo/LeBron/Hibbert. But since it’s the All-Star game and it’s more for show than winning, I’d have to assume just the starters. They’re the big names that everybody knows.
Yovanovich: I think he’s going to be partial to his own team, but respect the Miami Heat at the same. I’ll say Paul George, Roy Hibbert, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving.
Washburn: I think that LeBron, Paul George, and Roy Hibbert are locks to be on the floor. Past that, it may come down to match ups and whether the West goes big or small. I think the best/most terrifying lineup on both ends of the floor would be Hibbert, Bosh, LeBron, George, and John Wall. I also think if Lance had been selected to play in the game, Vogel would play him over Bosh in the same lineup.
Bishop: I’ll assume that the West goes big with either Dwight Howard or LaMarcus Aldridge. Another assumption of mine is Wade will ask to sit in the fourth quarter. Vogel will close the 2014 All-Star Game with Kyrie Irving, John Wall, LeBron James, Paul George and Roy Hibbert.
5. Which team will win — East or West — and who will be named MVP?
Searle: The West has LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, and Dirk Nowitzki on their bench. The East has … Joe Johnson. So yeah, I’m going to go with the West here to win. With Durant dominating headlines with his historic scoring run, he will get the first crack at gunning for the MVP. But I’m going to go with Stephen Curry. A memorable ankle-breaker, a couple of sweet dishes, and (of course) a ton of long bombs could get the crowd going and set him up for the big prize.
Sartori: West, because of the absurd amount of threes taken in All-Star games. Considering the West has Curry, Harden, Lillard, Dirk, Durant and Love, obviously that factor is going to work in their favor. As for the MVP, win or lose, I could see that going to Paul George. He loves to put on a show, and with not much to lose, there’s not really a better place to do it.
Yovanovich: Western Conference wins because there are far better teams in the conference. Kevin Durant is the obvious choice and I believe he’ll be the All-Star Game MVP.
Washburn: I think the West wins. They are too deep and they will undoubtedly pull away in the second and early-fourth quarters when LeBron and Paul George are out of the game. Kevin Durant will win MVP because the game won’t be that close and he will probably be the leading scorer on the winning team.
Bishop: The West. Kevin Durant will win MVP. His wrath isn’t stopping. He will burn the Smoothie King Center to the ground.