Sunday, February 14, 2010

Olympics vs. NBA All-Star Game

Sunday night gave us two tasty TV treats: the winter olympics on NBC and the NBA all-star game on TNT. As an NBA fan, I was initially more excited about the all-star game and I assumed I'd spend the majority of the time watching that on channel 3. Nope. For some reason I keep forgetting, year after year, how worthless the NBA all-star game is. And it wasn't even that they weren't playing that hard. For an all-star game, I thought they put it in a decent effort on both ends of the court. So let's examine why the olympics is so much more fun.

1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder
We get an all-star game every year. The olympics comes only every four. Watching the olympics is like spending time with a long-distance girlfriend who's leaving in a week: you don't take the time with her for granted, and even the boring parts like brushing your teeth together, or the biathlon, are precious.

As I was searching for the teeth-brushing scene from "Bring it On" to put in here, I came across this:

2. All or (almost) nothing
It's not a question of talent. The guys in the all-star game are most definitely the best in the world at their sport, just the same as the olympians. But the contrast between these events gets at the very essence of sport: the exciting part of competition is the risk of tremendous failure, as well as the potential reward of being a champion. It's not just the showcasing of talent; if it was, we'd go watch Tiger take practice swings at the driving range, or watch Roger Federer return serves from a machine, or watch Tiger practicing bagging mediocre-looking girls that aren't his wife. Mediocre compared to his wife, anyway.

No, it's only fun when everything is on the line, all the hours and months and years of early morning practices coming down to that one moment. With the all-star game, not much is on the line. Even if you lose, it still goes on your stat history that you were an all-star that year, and players are remembered for how many all-star appearances they made, not their winning percentage in the games.

Also, the length of the all-or-nothing moment is key. And here, the olympics is the opposite of sex: the quicker the event, the more exciting it is. A lot of these things are quite short (that's what she said), which means there's no room for error. In other words, every second counts. Yikes, when I typed that something clicked in my brain and I had the urge to watch 24...advertising is scary.

3. Dancing on ice is cool
Who knew figure skating was so much fun to watch? Seriously, guys who've boycotted this in the past, trust me, it is a lot of fun. I know it's hard for us men to hold on to our manliness with what is already a tenuous, slippery grip, but suck it up and--oh god, see how quickly that happened? Slippery and suck in the same sentence...I feel dirty. I'm gonna' go wash off the gay with this great new loofah I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Now that I'm all clean and exfoliated, I can tell you how it is really incredible what these figure skating pairs do. Clearly, all of the sports in the winter olympics require hours of practice that we mere mortals cannot come close to understanding--except maybe in number of hours spent on it's often hard to see this. With downhill skiing for example, it looks like they're just going really fast without that much control. With figure skating though, you see it. When the guy partner throws, yes throws, the girl high in the air, and she lands flawlessly, after spinning close to 1000 degrees, you kind of have to assume there were at least a couple early morning practices to make that possible. Go to 1:12 of this clip below and you'll see what I mean.


But I can't just leave the all-star game to rot like that. It's Valentine's Day after all, and I should do something nice for my sweetie, so I'll stick up for it best I can.

The all-star game does highlight what we love about the NBA: the high-flying, acrobatic dunks, and general top-notch athleticism. As I was writing this, Lebron James blessed bored TV watchers everywhere with this gem:
This is why I love the NBA and why I forgive it for all it's done wrong to me. And yet...what does it say about the all-star game if even with moments like that, I'd still rather watch dancing on ice?

Another positive from the all-star game was Shakira's performance during halftime. This was most definitely the highlight of the whole thing. Shakira's performance was very cool. Did I say very cool? I meant very like porn. Maybe I had the wrong impression, but I thought she did it more classy-like than Britney or Ciara--actually, I really have no idea what Ciara's performances are like and this is really stretching my knowledge of pop stars. However, I did know of course about Shakira's belly-dancing, which has its own over-the-top eroticism to be sure. But this was really erotic. Actually, using the word "erotic" to describe her performance doesn't work because it implies a kind of artiness, and there wasn't much Alvin Ailey in this one, unless that company has a number where they stand with their backs to the audience and do twenty-five squats dressed in nothing but leather covering the torso. Shakira fans: is she normally like that, or was this different? Alicia Keys was cool too. And how boss is her new song?

Postscript: Dwayne Wade said he would tell his grandkids about this "historical" event. Maybe he did mean historical, but probably not. If this slip-up tickles you, and you're sitting there smirking--stop it, you're embarrassing racist. Na, just kidding, but I bet you've mixed up historic and historical too. And even if you haven't, Wade has to do it on live TV, you don't. And you should wipe that smirk off your face anyway, you look like a douche.

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