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A Raptor Free Saturday Night

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Unless you include the Raptor, yes the mascot who for whatever reason managed to find himself center court and in numerous frames throughout the night, Saturday night's All-Star festivities were Raptor free. Although we have generally decided not to talk about NBA ball outside the context of the Raps I had to get some things off my chest. In the past 48 hours I have taken in an enormous amount of NBA TV while being bed ridden, and call it boredom, call it cabin fever, call it whatever you want, it is time for a bit of a rant.

There is no question the NBA is in great shape. Although Charles Barkley feels like the Knicks and Celtics should always be good and it is on the league to ensure that outcome, the Commissioner has taken the league to a new level of success. Yes, that Commissioner who think's it's funny that the Knicks are THAT bad. We are obviously hooked, and are wondering how we are ever going to find time to keep this site fresh down the road once the NDBL becomes a true minor league, and when a West Coast swing means games in Asia. Nothing like late games ending at 7 am. All in all though, there is no better game.

Perhaps one of the great indicators of that is how much better the NBA All-Star weekend is compared to any other All-Star festivities that MLB, the NFL, or the NHL can come up with. Few, if any, skills competitions in any other sport can have a bar on its feet like the NBA Dunk contest, or to a lesser degree the Rookie-Sophmore game. The NBA is truly on display this weekend, and thus far, even before the big game which brings back some Raptor flavour, it has to be deemed a success. That's not to say that some things still need to be fixed. Here is a run-down of this that bothered me over the weekend, all to different degrees.

- Number one, without a doubt, is the focus that the Knicks always get. Regardless of Stern's jokes during his annual All-Star address, the Knicks still get too much love. In particular, Nate Robinson. This guy winning the dunk contest was a pure conspiracy, led by Kenny Smith, who now should be forever banned from judging these contests. Andre Iguodala should sue. He could have had the biggest weekend of his career by winning the MVP in the Rookie-Sophomore game and then the Dunk Contest. Instead not only did he have BEST DUNK EVER as the two A.I.'s hooked up, but it took Nate 14 attempts to finish the last dunk. Had that been the BirdMan Anderson they probably would have kicked him out of the building. Don't get me wrong, Nate's dunk over Spud was CRAZY but there is no way he should have won. Maybe it was because he is short for the NBA, maybe because he is a Knick, whatever, it was a joke he won.

- Further to that there is no way Nate should have been in the Rookie-Sophomore game. His stats don't say he should go and neither does his game. The fact that he does play for the Knicks is the reason he went. Even as I type this they are still hyping this guy. If he played for any team in a small market there is no way he was there. And speaking of over-hyping Nate Robinson does anyone else remember when the Swirsk was loving this guy prior to the draft and wondering what he would look like in a Raptors uniform? Well apparently the tune has changed as in the last Raps-Knicks game Chuck stated that if he could chose one rookie from that team it would be David Lee.

- How did Dirk win the three ball contest? His last shot in the first round should not have counted. I lost a beer because of that. Bring a replay into the All-Star game!

- Speaking of replay did anyone else hear Steve Buffery's question to the Commissioner during his address? To paraphrase it went something like this, "Steve Buffery, Toronto Sun, we all know the attendence in Toronto is down and that the team has not made the playoffs in four years. Considering how things went with the Vancouver franchise, and the state of the Canadian economy, and the dollar, is there a concern that the Toronto franchise is a unstable situation?" Seriously, Steve Buffery, we know you work for the shadier newspaper in the city, with poor writing, but are you that NAIVE? The Canadian economy? Not sure you guys cover that in the Sun but have you looked at the dollar lately? Are you stuck in 1996? You must focus on something other than the Raptors (please for your sake, the answer better be yes) because even the Commissioner looked at you like you were from Mars. From the NBA's standpoint Toronto's franchise is perfectly run. They own their building, the attendance is still not like that of Atlanta or other cities, and as we all know they make money. The Commish also knows if there was a winning product on the floor (not far off) the seats will be filled again. Buffery made Canadians look stupid yesterday. Not what any of us need. Keep up the good work Steve.

- I hate hearing people cheer Kobe Bryant. It is amazing how forgiving the American public and even his fellow players are considering the events of the past.

- Watching Vince and T-Mac joke around during an interview almost made me sick. Sure that is dwelling in the past, but.....forget it. I need to get over the possibilities.

- Oh, and one last thing on the dunk contest. Josh Smith....do you need to go the way of James Worthy and get some glasses? What was the purpose of the tape? There was no way you were going to jump from there. The only way to describe this is to think of all of your favorite artists getting together to make an album, you wait in anticipation for the release, and they even announce there is a special featured guest on the album. You wait in more anticipation and search the net fruitlessly for a pre-release. The hype is huge. Then you find out the special guest is Walter McCarty. Worst album ever. Just like Smith's performance last night.

All of this being said there were some great things so far this weekend and although the big game is never as exciting as one hopes there is no doubt I will be watching. Any other beefs with the weekend? Let us know.

HOWLAND