In a special matchup of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Chris Molicki, challenges Features Editor Shaun Fitzpatrick, Managing Editor Amy Reynolds and former Editor-in-Chief Jamie Primeau to answer questions about what to change about the NBA All-Star weekend, which Eastern conference NBA team can make a playoff push, and what Jadeveon Clowney should do with the NFL draft.
1. The NBA All-Star weekend was incredibly dull across the board. What ideas do you have to make the festivities more exciting?
SF: Two words: Human. Sacrifice. Let’s raise the stakes a little bit. In my high school Spanish class, we learned that in certain pre-Columbian Central American civilizations, whichever team lost (or, some scholars argue, won) a game of ulama would be put to death. Let’s take this concept and implement it into the NBA. Ratings would increase and teams would work a hell of a lot harder. Every game is exciting when the players are competing for their lives! And, since it’s arguable whether the losers or the victors were the ones who were killed after the match, the NBA could switch this up as well! Teams would never know if they should be trying to win or lose! How has no one thought of this before?
AR: People enjoy watching the best of the best compete — that’s why the All-Star Game exists in the first place. However, not enough players participate in the All-Star Weekend. In order to make it more interesting, all players should be required to participate in all All-Star Weekend events. In fact, this year, neither LeBron nor Blake Griffin was in the Slam Dunk Contest. In addition, players should have to participate in all activities during the All-Star Weekend or they should not be able to play in the game itself. Unless star players are in the Slam Dunk Contest, the public will not take that competition seriously. This year, James White, Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried, Eric Bledsoe, Jeremy Evans and Terrence Ross all competed in the Slam Dunk contest. However, only die-hard NBA fans will be able to recognize those names, whereas casual fans won’t be interested.
JP: The most interesting thing about this year’s All-Star Weekend was Lil Wayne’s claim that he’s banned from the NBA (which wound up not even being true). Why not make all parties happy and add a Lil Wayne concert to the agenda? Even better, since Jay-Z owns the Nets, you could get Jay, Bey and Kanye on board. Maybe a Blue Ivy cameo? We all saw what Beyoncé did for the Super Bowl! More realistic suggestion? Spice up the dunk contest. Two full minutes is far too long to have for a dunk. If I was given that amount of time, I’d probably even get one in. Limit the number of shots they take or lessen the time. Overall, make the contests more entertaining and challenging. Here’s my best idea: Invite some Looney Tunes characters — like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck — and team them up with Michael Jordan. Call them the Tune Squad. Pit them against a group of bad guys named the Monstars. Maybe Marvin the Martian could be the ref? We’d get to see if Jordan can make a comeback (he just turned 50 after all). I’d pay to see that! In fact, you could probably make a movie about it.
Amy gets 3 points for pointing out the lack of star power in the All-Star events. Shaun gets 2 points because there’s really nothing more exciting than human sacrifice. Jamie gets 1 point for her “Space Jam” reference.
2. With the second half of the NBA season beginning, the eight East playoff teams are nearly set. Or are they? Give me the team currently outside of a playoff spot you think can make a push into the postseason.
SF: I’m going with the Charlotte Bobcats, because I love an underdog. So what if NBA.com is telling me that they’ve lost 41 games? That just means that no one will see their victory coming. There have been plenty of movies made about scrappy teams that, with a great training montage and the help of a coach who believes in them, have been able to go from worst in the league to champions. Maybe they could get Denzel Washington to coach them. Or Rick Moranis! He did such a great job in Little Giants! Wait, those were both movies about football, weren’t they?
AR: If any East team currently not in the playoff spot can make the playoffs this season, it would be Toronto. All of the East teams currently not in a playoff spot have significant weaknesses. Only a collapse by either Boston or Milwaukee will get one of them in. The closest are Philly and Toronto. If any teams are to switch positions it would be Milwaukee, currently eighth, and Toronto, currently 10th. According to the latest ESPN projections, the Raptors have a 32 percent chance of making the playoffs while the Bucks have a 38 percent chance of missing them. Every team ahead of Milwaukee has at least a 95 percent chance of making it while only Philly, at seven percent but playing poorly, would have even a remote shot at moving up.
JP: I think the Toronto Raptors definitely have a chance at making a push into the postseason. First of all, they have the most awesome mascot. Nothing beats dinosaurs! Sure, their record (23-33) may have more losses than wins, but they’re still one of the top-10 Eastern Conference teams. Just this past week they beat the Knicks, who are ranked third. The final score only had a two-point difference, but it shows how Toronto can keep up with the best of them. This was also the Raptors’ sixth win in their past seven games! The team also has three rookies on the roster, meaning they have some fresh potential for greatness. During the All-Star Weekend, Raptors rookie Terrence Ross even won the Slam Dunk Contest. He took the title over past champions and runners up. Long story short, it looks like the Raptors won’t be extinct when the postseason rolls around!
Amy gets 3 points for her analysis of the percent chance that the Raptors make the playoffs. Jamie gets 2 points for pointing out the current Raptors’ hot streak. Shaun gets 1 point because, let’s face it, the Bobcats aren’t going anywhere.
3. It has been suggested that South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney sit out his junior season and prepare for the NFL draft. Do you think it would be wise for Clowney to do that and protect his draft stock?
SF: I’m torn. On one hand, I think it’s smart to look at the bigger picture. If Clowney thinks sitting out is best for his chances of a future career, then he should absolutely do that. It’s practical. On the other hand, he made a commitment to his team! South Carolina is HIS TEAM and he would be letting it, as well as all of his fellow players, down by not playing. Doesn’t loyalty mean anything anymore? (I mean that as an actual question. Is loyalty in sports important? I’m a little “out of my league” with these questions.)
AR: Clowney should play, but he should also buy a large insurance policy in case he gets hurt. If he doesn’t play, many NFL teams will hold that against him. Playing insures him being the No. 1 draft pick in 2014 barring injury. Clowney could also challenge the NFL’s rule that makes a player ineligible to play in the NFL until three years after high school. However, a previous challenge by Maurice Clarett of Ohio State was unsuccessful. There is no reason to think Clowney’s chances of winning in court would be any better.
JP: The smartest decision would be for Clowney to sit out and prep for the draft. Sports Illustrated’s website called him the “presumptive 2014 No. 1 Draft Pick.” Because people are already discussing his potential as a sophomore, he must be pretty darn good. It would be wise to sit out his junior season to avoid the risk of injury. He should train privately to prepare for the NFL while still staying in school and finishing his college education. There is such a high risk of injury in football, regardless of whether he plays his junior season or heads into the NFL draft. Football could turn into a career for him, but at the same time, it’s important to have something to fall back on afterwards. I think if he chooses to train for the NFL while still getting his degree, he’d have the best of both worlds. He wouldn’t be ruining his draft stock and he’d also be setting himself up for a solid future. If he were to stay and play at college, he would be gaining experience but increasing his chance of injury.
Jamie gets 3 points for pointing out the importance of a degree. Shaun gets 2 points for discussing Clowney’s loyalty to his team. Amy gets 1 point for talking about the chances Clowney could get hurt.
Amy wins Around the Dorm, 7-6-5.