In any given year, you can count on NBA All-Star Weekend to produce at least a few memorable moments — but that's not good enough.
The NBA is the most fun professional sports league on the planet, and its annual exhibition should follow suit. Here are eight ways we'd improve All-Star Weekend.
Make the events worthwhile — with cold, hard cash
It's pretty simple: if you want players to care about All-Star events, put a $1 million prize on every event.
Well, maybe not every event. The NBA and its partners probably aren't willing to shell out a million dollars each to the members of the winning All-Star Game roster, so we'll get to how to improve Sunday's event later.
All-Star Saturday night, though, is a different story.
Even the most jaded superstar would have to consider throwing down a few dunks, chucking some threes, or participating in the less-than-strenous Skills Challenge if there were a million dollars on the line. Throw a few more sponsorships on the broadcast, and the powers that be could certainly make it happen.
And if LeBron James tells the media, "$1 million is cool, but I'd do the dunk contest for $5 million," you make the prize $5 million. If that man's career ends without an appearance on All-Star Saturday night, we've all failed as a society.
Implement a "Big Man 3-Point Contest"
We'd leave the definition of "big man" open to interpretation — DeMarcus Cousins? Yes; Ryan Anderson? No — but we all understand the spirit of the competition. Watching 7-footers who grab 10 rebounds a game chuck from beyond the arc is one of the NBA's simple pleasures. And with the 3-point revolution, a lot of these behemoths are solid shooters from downtown as well.
Put Boogie, Joel Embiid (were he healthy, anyway), Karl-Anthony Towns, Myles Turner, Kristaps Porzingis, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez, Nikola Jokic and Al Horford in a 3-point contest, and you can have all my money.
Host the festivities in Las Vegas every single year
Imagine the trade conversations that would ensue among general managers in the wee hours on the Strip just hours ahead of the deadline — then try not to think about the potential player shenanigans.
The NBA thrives on chaos, and Vegas is the perfect mid-season catalyst to create a whole lot of drama. Plus, the Nevada desert has a brand new, NBA-ready arena right on the Strip. If the Association isn't going to expand to Vegas, making the city the annual destination for All-Star Weekend is the next best thing.
Bring a little "Rock 'N' Jock" to the All-Star Game
The NBA All-Star Game is an all-offense joke that gets interesting only if the two teams are within shouting distance of each other in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.
You don't try to fix such a beautiful trainwreck. Instead, you roll with the disaster and hope you make it out on the other side. In the All-Star Game's case, that means 10-point shots from spots on the court that light up for brief intervals (thanks, technology!).
And if one team falls behind by 30-plus points, it also means a second basket 20 feet in the air, hovering over the first basket, that's worth 25 points on shots from behind the 3-point line.
One last suggestion for Sunday: blocked dunks are worth five points, while posterizations by the offensive player (as judged by the audience on Twitter, because fan interaction is key) are worth three. See you at the rim, everyone.
Have NBA players show off their hidden talents
Hot take: NBA All-Star concerts are not good.
I appreciate the effort to synergize with today's youth through the latest in music marketability, but ... no. Knock it off.
Instead, give me an NBA player talent show before the All-Star Game — Damian Lillard earnestly rapping, Victor Oladipo semi-ironically crooning, Gordon Hayward playing Overwatch, the whole nine yards.
It couldn't be any worse than Pitbull. Dale!
USA TODAY SportsCraig Mitchelldyer
Mic up every single participant during the weekend
I will pay a pretty hefty sum for unfiltered access to said audio feeds for all of the All-Star participants.
Seriously, NBA, I'm basically begging you to take my money. Speaking of which ...
Bring back the Legends Game
There are enough relatively young former players for a spectacular Legends Game. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace — hell, throw Shaq and Kenny and Charles out there and see if they can ball these days.
Oh, and while we're at it, let's allow current players over the age of 40 to play, just to get a little more Vince Carter during All-Star Weekend.
Getty ImagesVaughn Ridley
Add defenders to the Dunk Contest
We're all so incredibly jaded when it comes to the slam dunk these days that we need to up the ante somehow.
Watching the dunk contest participants break a perimeter defender's ankles with a crossover before a vicious jam or throw down a posterization all over a rim-protecting big man would inject an element of surprise into a fairly boring competition (2016 aside).
And if we host All-Star Weekend in Vegas every year like we should, the defender vs. dunker dynamic gives us one more thing to bet on during the exhibition extravaganza. That's never a bad thing.