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Thursday, January 21, 2010
Dunk contest: must-see no more


For a time, it was can't miss TV.

No costumes, no props, no clock.

Just the best of the best in the NBA with the basketball, a lot of "hang time," and a thunderous dunk.

If you're my age or older, you probably remember watching the 1988 Saturday All-Star festivities at the Chicago Stadium. If you're not old enough, here's the YouTube link. Was this really 22 years ago now?

I was lucky enough to be sitting in the Mezzanine level behind one of baskets with my Grandfather.

Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, and Clyde Drexler.

Air vs. the Human Highlight Reel vs. Glide.

MJ from the free throw line to win. (As big as a Jordan fan as I am, I must admit, Dominique won this event. Hey, we even stuffed the ballot boxes for the dunk contest in Chicago!)

In the 3-point shootout, Larry Bird was actually cheered by Chicagoans while shooting in his warmup top and game shorts, Bird lifted his arm in triumph, even before his final "money ball" went through the hoop to clinch the title.

What's my point, other than reminiscing?

LeBron James promised to turn this year's dunk contest back into can't-miss TV, but he recently backed out.

Instead, we get more Nate Robinson. (Wasn't he recently benched for shooting at his own hoop?) There's also DeMar DeRozan, Eric Gordon (isn't he a 3-point shooter?), Gerald Wallace and Shannon Brown. In 1988 I was witnessing Hall of Famers. Now, not only are these guys not NBA stars -- a couple don't even start for their team.

I'm with Shaq. We deserve to see James take on Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, and other stars.

His idea to donate a lot of the prize money to Haiti was fantastic.

We want the funk, bring back the dunk!

Make it "must see" again.

James loves to be compared to MJ. Here's another chance. Michael never had dance offs, he had dunk offs.

Step up, LeBron. Dunk!

" While I'm fully on board with the Chicago Blackhawks, (every game is must-see) here's a big difference between Gary Bettman's NHL and David Stern's NBA. On Thursday night, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James faced off as the Los Angeles Lakers visited the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course, it's put up on the marquee in lights as the big game on TNT for all to see.

On the same night, the best face each other in the NHL.Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. Pens vs. Caps. You can't watch it on TV if you don't have the "Center Ice" package. How does the NHL expect get more popular with the average sports fan if they won't broadcast its greatest talents when they go head-to-head? I have DirecTV and can't see games on Versus. Step up, Bettman. Ovechkin and Crosby and it's nowhere to be found. Step up, Bettman. And each year, some teams don't make it to the United Center. This year, the Pens don't play in Chicago. Step up, Bettman! Hockey has some great things going for it, but it's muffled by a league that doesn't know much about public relations.

" So in just a year and a half, Derrick Rose has the fourth highest selling jersey in the entire NBA. In that same time frame, Vinny Del Negro still hasn't learned how to pronounce Kirk Hinrich. Hey Vinny,, it's K-I-R-K, not K-U-R-T. Why can't he say it correctly?

" I will now only refer to D-Rose as Rose. I'm dropping the D until he earns it back by playing some defense.

" The Jim Harbaugh-Raiders story is a crazy one. If he doesn't go to Oakland, I'm putting the former Bears QB's name in the hopper for potential replacements for Lovie Smith after the 2010 season. My current short list is: 1. Bill Cowher 2. Jon Gruden 3. Tony Dungy as team President and Les Frazier as his coach 4. Jim Harbaugh 5. Mike Heimerdinger 6. Ron Rivera.

" If you love fantasy football, do yourself a favor next year. Sign up for a league that includes a postseason during the actual postseason. I'm in a 12-team league where five teams make the postseason. You keep your "playoff players" and redraft other players from the seven teams in the league that are eliminated. Two strategies: drafting players who you think are great and drafting players who you think will survive the longest. Who would've thought I'd get one game from Phillip Rivers? The five teams don't get eliminated round-by-round. Everyone plays during the four weeks of the postseason (Super Bowl included) and the high point total is your season champion.

• I'm excited for the final season of "Lost" coming soon. I've made it to this point even after some frustrating plot lines. Can't say the same about "24." Am I the only one who just can't watch this show anymore? I was a diehard fan for the first few seasons. I remember Tony Kornheiser talking about it each week on his radio show and my girlfriend at the time enjoyed it, so I gave the first season a try on DVD. Shows don't have to be realistic to be enjoyed, but the "24" stories have become so stale. The important storylines in the beginning of the day eventually mean nothing. The bad guys in the beginning have bosses who are worse guys and then they have bosses who are the worst. Those really bad guys are usually corrupt government workers. Then there's the good guy-bad guy thing. They tease you all season about whether a character is really good or evil. Finally, Jack Bauer has saved the U.S. and the world so many times, but the government always doubts him in the end. "Get me Bauer now!" is uttered countless times, followed by him getting put in confinement. He'll eventually escape and save the world again. "24" was one of the most original shows when it first came out, but it couldn't be more frustrating now.