No Spurs in the 3-Point Contest
The NBA came out on Wednesday afternoon and announced the participants in the upcoming 3-point shootout. Yet again, the Spurs didn’t have a shot. James Jones (Heat), Ryan Anderson (Magic), Mario Chalmers (Heat), Joe Johnson (Hawks), Anthony Morrow (Nets) and Kevin Love (Timberwolves) are the contestants.
Normally, I don’t care much for All-Star Weekend stuff and the Spurs being represented. I was happy that Tony Parker was named an All-Star this year. I felt like he was worthy of the honor based on his play and deserved the recognition. But I wouldn’t have thrown a fit if he wasn’t named. I was actually relieved that Tim Duncan wasn’t named an All-Star this year. He’s old.
I’m disappointed that there are no Spurs taking part in the 3-point shootout, though. Matt Bonner led all of the NBA in 3-point percentage in the regular season last year (I feel obligated to point out that it was in the regular season for fear of what the comments section will look like). Richard Jefferson finished fifth in the NBA in 3-point percentage. Gary Neal finished 13th and nailed some clutch 3s from the preseason to the playoffs. Bonner, and others, even campaigned for the Red Rocket’s inclusion in the 3-point contest. Not a single Spur was invited.
Bonner and Jefferson are both in the top-20 in 3-point percentage this season. Although, admittedly, Bonner struggled with his shooting out of the gate this year and hasn’t been as reliable as in seasons past. Neal is 38th but still getting his legs back under him after sitting out the early part of the season following the removal of his appendix. And yet, Jefferson is third in 3-point makes this year. Bonner is 16th. Still, not a one was invited to the 3-point shootout.
Perhaps this wouldn’t bother me if not for two reasons. The first, is that the 3-point competition is the one single event in All-Star Weekend that a Spur could fit in at. It’s simply a shooting competition. Fundamentals of basketball and all. The skills competition is close, but players still have to exert some effort in running from station to station. And the Shooting Stars competition seems like a forced concept to me, despite the San Antonio contingent doing well in the past.
As good as Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are, they don’t fit in the All-Star game to me. It’s all about flash and high-flying dunks. Very little defense and structure, which, despite the state of the Spurs defense over the last few seasons, both are identified with the Spurs. Those three guys can put up big numbers in the game, and have, but they still seem out of place to me. Ditto for the Rookie-Sophomore game, even though DeJuan Blair put up an MVP performance there a couple seasons ago.
The dunk contest? We all understand that one, right?
But shooting, that’s what the Spurs are about, isn’t it? What team embraced the 3-pointer like the Spurs have done? They’ve successfully transitioned from a back-to-the-basket, dump it in the post type of team to one that has used the rule changes of the last decade to their advantage and incorporated the corner 3-point shot to a dangerous part of the team’s arsenal. Only once in the last six years have the Spurs finished outside the top-10 in the NBA in 3-point makes. And they finished 11th.
I understand that the NBA is looking for viewers. Unlike the NBA playoffs and Finals, they can pick and choose the participants of this televised event. The Spurs, masters of the 3-point shot though they may be, do not elicit much response or emotion from the casual fan. No one will tune in to root for or against a Spur in the 3-point contest. Though the 3-point shootout may be the one event on All-Star Saturday night fit for a Spur, it will again be without one.