With All-Star Weekend kicking off, fans of the NBA get to see all of the best players do everything from slam dunk, shoot half court shots, throw basketballs through tire rings, and stroke their own egos. It’s a wonderful weekend that brings out the best in all fan-related matters, that is, minus the fact five NBA fanbases will have no personal reason for watching, Indiana included.
Unfortunately, that one small oversight, one the league likely won’t miss, does a large disservice for interest for those fanbases annually. Granted, Pacers fans haven’t had a lot to tune in for with All-Star Weekend; only Danny Granger has represented the blue and gold in any All-Star functions since Jermaine O’Neal’s last bid in 2007, that being in 2009 where he competed in the Three Point Shootout and was later seemingly frozen out by Mo Williams, LeBron James, and Mike Brown in the big game just days after Granger and the Pacers closed out a huge win against those Cavaliers.
And part of the appeal of All-Star Weekend, at least for me, has always been the representation. Seeing guys I cheer for every night candidly interviewed while aiming for a mini golf putt is fun, because All-Star Weekend is about the fans, and what better way to enjoy something as a fan than to see the players you cheer for night in and night out joking with fellow players, delivering slow pitch interviews about interests and enjoying themselves with a mid-season vacation. And with the breadth of events at All-Star Weekend (despite the untimely demise of my beloved HORSE competition), with the potential to tinker with adding others, I believe something needs to be a requisite: every team needs at least one representative for the Weekend.
For the Pacers, there are snubs from all walks of the weekend. With the Rookie Challenge, Paul George is already one of the best rookies in the league this year, while Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough deserved to receive recognition for the Sophomore squad, despite neither getting a place when Tyreke Evans pulled out of the game. Josh McRoberts could’ve brought some real safety code violations to the Staples Center in the Slam Dunk Contest. Furthermore, what about one of the many sharpshooting wings that could make some noise in the Three Point Shootout? Wouldn’t it be cool to see say Granger, Reggie Miller, and Tamika Catchings in the Shooting Stars competition?
And none of that has anything to do with the actual game. While the Pacers don’t have an All-Star this year, All-Star Weekend is an entire weekend. It’s an event, and the team should not need an All-Star to be involved in the weekend, especially when they’ve got players who really should be involved in the weekend and all. As it stands, there’s very little in this All-Star Weekend that will hold my interest. I often enjoy seeing the young guns in the Rookie Challenge, but it’s a little hollow knowing one of the best is in our own backyard. The HORSE contest may have been horribly mismanaged, but I loved it. And when the main event will likely be a typical humdrum affair (especially since the East’s bench is made up entirely of Celtics), seeing a member of the blue and gold just somewhere in this crowd would make it all worthwhile.
Though this current dilemma may not be a dilemma in the long run with Indiana’s youth poised to at least have some kind of say in the proceedings, the disappointment in not having a rooting interest in three of the last four All-Star Weekends has begun to catch up. Though it may not seem it, there are fans in Indiana, Charlotte, Houston, Phoenix, and Memphis. They’re just as entitled to be involved in their own weekend as are Miami, Boston, and LA fans, as odd as it may seem. Just think about it, okay?