The 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend is in the books, so let's wrap it all up with some good old-fashioned POWER RANKINGS.
64. The lack of a final round in the Slam Dunk Contest. John Wall's dunk got the crowd nice and hot and ready to go, but because of the format of the contest in which the two conferences were competing, it was over. A total drag. And it will never happen again. (Oh, the Dunk Contest will probably be a drag again, but not because of that format. It's dead.)
63. One of the best parts of the Dunk Contest is seeing the other non-participating NBA stars react. There will zero good reaction shots. What a loss for the fans.
51. Nice Rising Stars Challenge MVP trophy you've got there.
47. The sensitive censor drops. On every "Oh s--t!" the sound dropped out. If you are familiar with NBA basketball, you know that is about one out of every three possessions. At times, it sounded like a Clipse song on top-40 radio. Audible four-letter words are part and parcel of the game. Drop the puritanical resistance. Embrace the cusses.
28. A distinct lack of Kobe Bryant. I'm no Lakers fan, but it's pretty sad to see Kobe in his current state. No one doubted he'd maim the bear in his first recovery; that was a given. But to have an immediate setback after returning after all that work must have been crushing. Now, he just doesn't seem to have that same verve. Perhaps I'm misreading his tone and quotes, but for the first time, I can see an NBA post-Kobe. The league will be fine -- we've got LeBron, Durant and all the rest. But without Kobe, it's going to be so incredibly different. Here's to the old fella knocking out that bear one more time.
15. The halftime show on Sunday and Kendrick Lamar's set on Saturday. K-Dot went down tempo on his second song ("Don't Kill My Vibe"), which unfortunately fit the mood of the Dunk Contest to follow perfectly. But he looked like he was having a great time, and he's a great performer. The Sunday show was 12 minutes of unadulterated joy.
14. Inflatable mascot conga line! Poor cute little Timberpup. Via @HPbasketball.
13. Reggie Miller and Shaq. The two most maligned NBA on TNT employees were kinda great! Shaq starred as a prop in Ben McLemore's so-bad-it's-good dunk and was generally a mensch. Miller had the line of the night on Saturday -- "that won't be downloaded" in response to Harrison Barnes' horrid dunk -- and made me smile with a totally sincere "I love my job" after a nasty Blake Griffin jam on Sunday. Good work, guys.
12. Arne Duncan is the current person who takes the Celebrity Game way more seriously than everyone else. Also, he's the United State Secretary of Education. This just might be his annual professional highlight. The question remains: when will Barack Obama himself grace the Celebrity Game with his presence? Now that Zach Lowe is in the coaching pipeline, the President could feel safe he won't be embarrassed by 2017 or so.
10. Benny the Bull. He had a few starring moments over the weekend, including pillow talk with LeBron during the All-Star Game ...
... and a dismissal by the one and only Giannis Antetokounmpo during the Skills Challenge (via @cjzero).
9. Marv Albert brought up that Reggie Miller got big-timed, as Kid Rock confused Miller for Grant Hill. The clever TNT social media team had a brilliant, slightly cutting response.
8. Anthony Davis' second Foot Locker ad. Just as good as the first.
7. Charles Barkley interviewing President Obama. That it was the polar opposite of Bill O'Reilly's self-aggrandizing Super Bowl sitdown is beside the point; it's not like there was much meat to Chuck's interview. It was the friendliest interview Obama could get. But to see Barkley -- the loudest man in every room -- so humbled, so awed, so nervous around the Leader of the Free World ... it was just something else. And to hear Chuck speak of the respect he had for the opportunity puts it all in perspective. It's not often you see a quiet, reflective Charles Barkley.
6. Pharrell did a 45-minute set before the All-Star Game tipped off. It was great! He even brought out Chad Hugo! But you're really can't beat Busta Rhymes and Diddy doing a choreographed dance to "Happy."
The NBA actually posted the full set on YouTube. Worth watching if you missed it and like fun.
6b. The NBA put together a highlight reel of NBA personalities dancing to "Happy." The only thing better than Busta dancing to the song is Karl Malone and Kelly Olynyk dancing to the song.
5. Magic Johnson leading the entire arena in singing "Happy Birthday" to Bill Russell, who turned 80 years old four days earlier. Close enough! A magical moment as current All-Stars individually approached the legend for a handshake and a kind word.
4. John Wall-Star, Dunk Champ. Most of the dunks that didn't involve Harrison Barnes were actually good on Saturday night, and Wall's winner from Wizards mascot G-Man was clearly the best.
3. The annual Dunk Contest within the All-Star Game. LeBron and Blake Griffin were without parallel.
2. Sir Foster, the king of all organists. He's the Hawks' house organist, and he slayed during the Rising Stars Challenge and All-Star Game, dropping a crazy number of covers constantly. We made a compilation of his best work from Sunday night. The music was piped in wonderfully through TV; we need him every year now. There's no going back.
and…is the organist playing "moments in love?" what kinda party is this???— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) February 17, 2014
The NBA All-Star organist could launch into a full rendition of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor right now. They've earned it.— Spencer Hall (@edsbs) February 17, 2014
I would buy three mixtapes from the All-Star Game organist.— sir broosk (@celebrityhottub) February 17, 2014
1. The East's amazing comeback. Down 18, the East battled months of insults to storm back on win the game late. Kyrie Irving was totally brilliant, Carmelo Anthony hit eight three-pointers and the West choked, which surely pleased the inactive Kobe Bryant, who never would have let that happen. The game broke All-Star scoring records and was littered with exciting moments throughout. A thoroughly entertaining endeavor. And there's little better in February than competitive crunch time in the All-Star Game.
Tremendous job with the basketball, stars! It is, after all, why we bother.