It took until the all-star break, but everybody can gossip about the Miami Heat now thanks to Dwyane Wade's breaking Kobe Bryant's nose.
To a casual fan it's no big deal. Pete Rose separated catcher Ray Fosse's shoulder in a home plate collision in the 1970 major league baseball all-star game.
The big difference however is Wade doesn't appear to be a head first-sliding psychopathic caricature nicknamed Charlie Hustle who "would walk through hell in a gasoline suit" to play his sport, as Rose once declared.
And this was the NBA all-star game, a glorified playground contest in the midst of a feel-good weekend of shugs. There's even an unspoken code that you don't hard foul anyone in this event.
Wade for his part didn't apologize -- he didn't even smile in Kobe's direction afterwards. So off we go on this one, waiting for Sunday's Lakers-Heat game where it counts.
Personally I find the gamesmanship refreshing. If you can take anything away from this, the incident only reinforces Wade as the true heart and emotional soul of the Heat -- as LeBron's act of deference in the fourth quarter of that game further demonstrated. Remember, after all, it's James, not Wade, who people try and compare Kobe to.
Here's the thing about NBA all-star weekend: you can rip it all you want -- whether you're exasperated by the annual gong show that is the dunk contest or the over-the-top celebrity-infused decadence of the festivities -- it's one of only two professional sport all-star events worth watching (baseball being the other). Outside of that, it is what every all-star game is: an opportunity for league people and media to have a good time.
Maligned dunk contest
As for the much-maligned dunk contest, it's worth remembering something. The event is cyclical. It's probably not a bad idea to have the thing go away for a couple of years. That's what happened in the late 90s when it was mothballed because the league realized Dominique Wilkins wasn't playing any more. What brought it back though? Vince Carter.
Jason Richardson aside, the event then sank again over the next decade -- thanks in large part to Nate Robinson -- until Blake Griffin appeared on the scene.
Forcing star players to perform or making champs like Griffin defend their title is an idea, but one that won't necessarily make for better dunks. Perhaps grading players on a set of pre-determined styles -- one prop dunk only, best 360, best windmill, etc. -- is the best option.
However, a key factor needed is pre-dunk contest hype (not there this year). When Griffin and Carter won, there was a buildup of expectation before all-star weekend. Carter cranked it out of the park, and Griffin, for the most part, delivered. Without this, we are left to pin our hyperbole on Paul George and Jeremy Evans.
So that's the answer. Make it go away for a while. In a couple of years, another exciting player will come on the scene, leading highlight packages with sick dunks in the months before all-star weekend. And that's when they bring it back.
With only one prop dunk each.
Kings strike deal
News that the Sacramento Kings have struck a deal to stay in the small-market California capital is both refreshing and surprising. With an arena going up in Seattle, one sitting empty in Kansas City and another looking for a possible co-tenant for the Ducks in Anaheim, one could have expected the Brothers Maloof to solely focus elsewhere. Credit Sactown mayor Kevin Johnson for another highlight-reel assist.
However, I suspect -- and it's just my opinion -- that given their ties to Las Vegas, once the Sin City NBA dream died with the Donaghy scandal they lost their desired location. It's a big score for Sacramento, and one that some of the best fans in basketball deserve. Not unlike the Raptors in the Air Canada Centre, when that team is on and in the playoffs, there are few better -- and louder -- NBA arenas to be in.
What to look for the second half? It's all about Dwight Howard. D12 could essentially blow up the Eastern Conference standings if and when he's traded. Even a deal to the Nets could still shake the ground. New Jersey, while bad, remains six-and-a-half games out of eighth going into Tuesday night.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?