SUNDAY NIGHT LIVE: Don’t Be Scared

by February 19, 2007
12

By Russ Bengtson 

PREGAME

I still miss 1988. I think part of the reason is because the whole “NBA on NBC” package was so good, right down to the music and highlights packages. As opposed to this “built on the desert” intro, which is just lame.

Dennis Miller still looks ratty. And the fact that they’re showing celebs before players says something.

Charles Barkley is alive!

Craig Sager’s jackets have gotten worse EVERY DAY. I didn’t think it was even possible. Thank God there’s no All-Star Monday.

The warm-ups are pretty rad with the last names embroidered on the front. The adidas branding is a bit much, but hey, the League approved them I guess.

Magic Johnson says that Jason Kidd will help the East pace, even though he’s not playing. Way to keep up, Magic.

Gilbert Arenas says he’s gonna go “real hard” from the tip. Of course he is.

Jay-Z and Beyonce, Dirk Nowitzki yawning, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker shaking hands with Ronnie Nunn, the NBA’s director of officials.

“My Five, my rules.”

Carmelo’s miked up. Dirk too. I wish we could watch the game unedited with the alternate soundtrack.

David Aldridge interviews Dwight—about breakdancing? What about his getting robbed in the Dunk Contest? Come on, DA! Caron Butler is as excited as a little kid. Shaq meanwhile, is his usual deadpan self. What does he have against Kenny Smith? I see what he has against Sager’s blazer. Is that iridescent?

Apparently Gilbert Arenas threw 100 jerseys into the crowd? Man. He’s absolutely 100 percent the best.

Doug Collins’s hair still creeps me the F out every time I see it. Mike Fratello’s might be worse, but I don’t see him as much.

AGENT ZERO. Highlights set to the all-time classic “Secret Agent Man”? I like it. Steve Kerr likes him for MVP, and while I’ve already settled on D. Wade, it’s not a bad choice. I just figure the prominently single Arenas is probably tired out from partying while D. Wade’s a family man.

Doug Collins talks about Kobe and the verbal BJ he gave him before the game. Obviously he likes him to be MVP. Marv ain;t telling who he picked. Jerk.

Dirk Nowitzki is put in the starting lineup for the first time, appropriate since he’s probably the MVP so far this season. Dirk’s sister got married in Vegas! This weekend! Way to upstage your bro, Silke.

The painting of the stretch sailing ship in that Old Spice commercial kills me every time. Best thing ever. I want one. (The painting, not the actual ship.)

The Masters of Impossible? Welcomed by, oh God, Sigfried and Roy? Please let a tiger eat one of them. So awkward and scripted. Not to mention that guy who got half eaten looks and talks like a freaking zombie. A Nazi zombie. And now, showgirls and a surgically preserved Wayne Newton! He’s possibly the creepiest, tanniest, pompadouriest, whiteteethiest man alive. Is this 1977 or 2007? If Elvis wasn’t dead before, he is now.

Player intros. Gotta love Mike Abdenour being introduced first. And also Jason Kidd standing in front of showgirls. Somewhere, Joumana is tearing her hear out.

Did he say “ballas”?

Caron Butler just looks so happy. Best thing about All-Star weekend by far—a multi-million dollar pro athlete being unabashedly happy about something. He’s not alone, but he’s the most obvious about it.

What the heck is Gilbert’s greeting? And LeBron with the Rocafella diamond, sigh. Isn’t that so over?

WAYNE NEWTON IS BACK. PLAYING JAMES BROWN. PLEASE GOD, LET THE WORLD END. Thank God I’m not there, because I might be tempted to do something drastic.

And now a violin? Is this really happening? “Danke Schoen,” 40 years too late and three octaves too low. WHERE’S FERRIS?

AI in an all-black suit/shirt/tie. Nice. And Yao, and Steve Nash, and Carlos “Rico Tubbs” Boozer. That’s a lot of hurt guys.

There’s that “ballas” thing again. Stop it! And spit the gum out, Josh.

Wait, Memo’s actually an All-Star?

Only one West starter went to college. Just thought that was worth mentioning.

Wayne Newton again? Reprising “Viva Las Vegas” in an eminently burnable “Las Vegas ‘07” leather jacket. At least it doesn’t last long. You’re telling me there hasn’t been another prominent Vegas-based singer in the past 40 years?

Roxanne Potvin. Dennis’s sister? Daughter? I mean, it IS the Canadian anthem. AND THEY SHOW VINCE DURING IT. Classic. Best moment of the night so far. If only he was singing along.

And it’s Las Vegas nine-time entertainer of the year Danny Gans! (Which means nothing outside of Vegas, mind you.) He’s joined by four anonymous and extraneous harmonizers. But not Wayne Newton. Thank God for small favors.

Enough cityscape views of Las Vegas already. We’ve all watched CSI.

LeBron welcomes the crowd. He’s got a really deep voice.

The names are on the bottoms of the jerseys?

How is Dick Bavetta NOT officiating after being here for the Barkley race? Is David Stern punishing him? I’m at least 2/3rds serious.

Did Wade hug Dirk? I missed it if it happened.

FIRST QUARTER

LeBron runs the point. Of course. And Gilbert bricks a three. Of course.

And Kobe starts things off for the West with a too-high lob for KG. Yep, Kob’ and Bron as distributors. Told you.

Then Kobe scores for himself, and soon-to-be MVP Dwyane Wade. Who follows that with a steal and dunk.

Sorry adidas, these uniforms are kind of boring. It’s Vegas! Shouldn’t they be brighter? More…outspoken?

KG’s on the board in pretty much ever category already.

Tim Duncan needs to be recalibrated.

He has been.

Pretty slow start. Guys aren’t really pushing it. “Laying in the weeds a little bit,” as Doug Collins puts it. Although he’s actually talking about the Spurs. Doesn’t matter, it fits. If Gilbert is playing “really hard” I haven’t noticed.

Shawn Marion comes in early for Dirk. He was the replacement starter, so maybe this is D’Antoni’s way of appeasing the easily bruised Marion.

AGENT ZERO.

AGAIN. Cherrypicker.

Kobe reverse up and under dunk. Followed by LeBron to Wade. Pretty.

Dwight Howard in for Shaq. One wonders whether he’ll play anymore tonight. And I think Dwight’s sticker got taken down, which is sort of sad.

“Why would I want to be in your Five?” Am I the only one surprised that adidas and T-Mobile haven’t sued each other over the use of the number five?

Another sky view of Vegas. I keep expecting it to be followed by shots of Grissom and Brass.

DA! Mentions Kidd has been in the news lately…for trade rumors. Um, he’s been on the FRONT PAGES for a messy divorce, too. Way to keep skipping the controversy, DA. I’m disappointed. Marv brings it up, though. Of course. And Doug Collins praises him for “playing through it.” Yeah, that or he’s a sociopathic psycho. One of the two.

Dunk, dunk attempt, dunk, dunk. It’s all about the fundamentals, baby.

Josh! Tony! Amare! (Nice defense.)

Shawn Marion, three offensive rebounds and two points on the same play.

MELO. Official.

Jermaine O’Neal tips in a basket…for the West. You’re not in Portland anymore, dog.

JO scores for his own team to balance things out.

Bron tries the off-glass-to-himself move from WAY too far out and runs someone over. Not even close. Then he airballs a three. Have a seat, Chosen One. Welcome, Rip.

The rims are LOUD. Rattly.

Chauncey misses a three, and Dwight Howard dunks the crap out of it. And he cleans up another miss (this time JO’s).

Amare leads all scorers (I think) with eight—and he earns a trip to the line, even. Wouldn’t mind him winning MVP either.

The Sprite commercial with LeBron in the tux and lime mask with the paintball gun is supremely creeptastic. It certainly doesn’t make me want to drink Sprite.

A Marv-narrated recap of the three off-glass-to-self dunks in NBA history. It was Amare who LeBron ran over. Good thing they didn’t both get hurt.

Vince hits Howard with an oop, That’ll look even better when they’re both in Orlando next year.

What’s with all the fouls? Marv says “very few whistles,” but it doesn’t seem that way. Memo checks in—who else hasn’t played yet? Anybody? Bueller?

Tony Parker, uh-huh.

Melo! West has 35, good pace. They’re up 10. Vince tries some sort of a 360 layup and gets rejected by the bottom of the rim. He doesn’t on his next trip down, though—emphatic dunk. Should have been in the contest yesterday, jerk.

39-31 West after 1. The pace had better pick up.

Why does the “good Dwyane” wear Mars Blackmon’s glasses? Did Spike direct that commercial too? Gotta think he did. Man. Is anyone else old enough to remember when the All-Star game ALWAYS meant a new Spike and Mike commercial? For a shoe you’d never even seen before but KNEW you needed anyway? Those were the days.

“So, are you gonna put me in your Five?”

SECOND QUARTER

Ray Allen, corner 3. Might want to guard that guy.

Vince, missed three, then turnover on the baseline.

Rip on the runout. Of course.

Ray Allen, another three.

Shaq’s back, by the way. With Memo on him. Good luck, Memo. T-Mac hits a three—and it’s 48-33, West. And the East just keeps missing.

Chauncey off the glass for a sick dunk by some jerk that wasn’t in the dunk contest. And Dirk hits ANOTHER three for the West. Sheesh. Four of five in the quarter with 9:23 to go. 51-35. And Josh Howard’s on the line. One of two.

Jermaine O’Neal is shooting way too much, and Shaq misses a dunk. But not twice. He’s one of six. Ugh. And then he kisses T-Mac hard on the cheek (no Amaechi).

See? This Jordan commercial just ain’t the same. No, Mars.

Red on Roundball! Awesome. And great, they paid tribute to him—WAY before the telecast started (or maybe during the time out). Respect, Red.

Memo’s hair is an epic disaster.

LeBron! Dirk! LeBron to Wade no; McGrady to Marion, yes. The West is up 17. Mac three, bang. West up 20, 59-39. Typical laser off back rim and straight through. My favorite shot in the NBA—the best transition three since Scottie Pippen retired.

Kobe to Marion to Amare (off rebound). Shaq to Shaq. Don’t break anything.

“Kind of surprised to see Shaq back into this game,” Kerr says. Me too.

LeBron three, You know the West is gonna shoot one, too. Timeout first.

Vince pointing out Carrot Top, T-Mac singing “Viva Las Vegas,” Gilbert threatening to “cross-up” Kobe. Who dunks out of the time out. Hey, it’s Joe Johnson! Last?

Carmelo with a WIDE OPEN dunk. Ouch. 67-46 West. Wow, what an intriguing game. LeBron follows with a fallaway. He’d be on MVP pace if his team wasn’t losing by 20.

LeBron, again. He’s got 13. Kobe, fouled. By Joe Johnson. Kobe, reverse.

Wade swatted badly by KG. I wish he was miked up for that one. KG, not Wade. Time out.

OH MY GOD, IT’S BARRY BONDS. And Prince. Luda. Dave Chappelle. Diddy.

Melo to Parker back to Melo for the OOP. 74-53. LeBron hits a three. So does Kobe. He’s got 15 and is the leading candidate for MVP. (As I type it, Doug Collins says it.) And Tim Duncan flips him the ball for two more easy ones.

Lots of graphics throughout the game makes the screen shrink. Not a good look.

Kobe has the ball knocked away, and Dwight Howard whiffs on a little scoop, but gets it back and is fouled with three-tenths to go. He misses both, Duncan gets the rebound, and it’s 79-59 West at the half. INTRIGUE. I hope Iverson rips his suit off and plays for the East in the second half. WHERE’S STEPH?

HALFTIME

Cirque de Soleil, Toni Braxton (did she have to sex Mutombo for this gig?) and Christina Aguilera are up. Meanwhile, I assume Britney Spears is off somewhere getting her spine pierced or something.

“Why would I want to be in your Five?”

Toni Braxton “from the Flamingo Hotel on the Sunset Strip.” I’m sure she’s proud of that introduction. Although wait, she won six Grammys? And is she introduced by Robin Leach? She apparently visits Chris Kaman’s old barber. And I think she bought her outfit at Whitney Houston’s storage sale. I’m more than a little disappointed that Jason Kidd hasn’t rushed the stage yet. And more than a little relieved that I don’t recognize anything she’s singing.

I’m sure Toni hasn’t had any work done or anything. This isn’t even CLOSE to Mariah Carey singing to Michael Jordan, by the way. Although Xtina could come close, I guess.

I’m not even going to try and explain—or understand—what it is that Cirque de Soleil is doing…and still doing.

Quite the intro for our girl Christina. She should sing a Britney song just to gloat. She’s dressed as Philip Marlowe. Good pipes, though. Especially given that she was probably out until 6 a.m. Ah, choreographed dance moves. This is all Paula Abdul’s fault. Or Janet Jackson’s. Or the Supremes. Who knows. Why couldn’t they just have Prince perform again? He killed it at the Super Bowl.

I’ll admit it, I’m hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.

Dammit.

Ernie, Chuck, Kenny and Magic. Really quick. “Can I say something to the blackjack dealers at the Mandalay?” Why yes, Chuck. But by all means, let’s see more Wayne Newton. Please. We can’t get enough. WE CAN’T.

I kind of like that Magic’s wearing a three-piece suit with the vest buttoned up all the way. He also says “look for the West to win this game” when they’re up 20. Bold prediction. And speaking about bold predictions, everybody picks Kobe to be MVP.

“I’m Dwyane Wade, my Five’s hot!”

THIRD QUARTER

Kobe starts things off with a 28-foot miss. You go, Kobe. Then he gets fouled underneath off am East turnover. DO YOU. I guess it would be nice for him to win an All-Star MVP in a city where not everybody hates him.

Wade miss, Kobe takes it all the way down and drops it off to Shawn Marion for the easy two. 83-59, West. Howard gets blocked by Amare, but only once. Dunks the next one. And Bosh cuts the lead to 20 again. Until Amare hits on some crazy spin that makes me think it’s T-Mac. Howard again. Amare again. Gilbert misses a three. Amare is seven for 10 and 15 points. T-Mac hits, bumps that West lead back to 24. Time out, East.

Hey, it’s Craig Sager in some sort of a Jeep infomercial! Awkwardly amazingly horrible. Just like Sages himself. He’s pretty Vegas himself, come to think of it. Overly flamboyant and of indeterminate age.

More celebrities. Yawn.

Wade blocked by T-Mac. Yeah, bad MVP choice on my part. And speaking of MVP, Amare with the dunk. He’s having a David Lee type game here. 91-65, West. Kobe to Amare, again. Nine for 12? Marion with a runout dunk. LeBron with an answer. 95-67. Can Eddie Jordan get fired from the All-Star game?

Bosh with a lefty windmill. Sweet.

Kerr calls this lineup D’Antoni’s “dream fivesome.” Which he immediately changes. And Wayne Newton is sitting next to Ah-nold. Oh, to hear them talk. Amare, again. 10 of 13. He’s the new MVP favorite. MICROFRACTURE WHAT, SON?

Ray Allen misses a three on a pass from Anthony, but Melo himself cleans it up. The East has made a tiny run, though—they’re only down 25 with 5:56 to go.

Amare misses on a drive, and Anthony picks off an East oop who sends it ahead to Kobe who finds Marion for an oop of his own. Amare dunk (also from Kobe). Butler misses in close—he might still be nervous, and I don’t know if he’s scored yet. Marion gets a wide-open windmill, and the West is up a Matrix-approved 31. Sheesh.

SHAWN MARION UNLV HIGHLIGHTS. Very, very cool. Now show me some Larry Johnson.

Vince rattles the rim the bad way—on an off jumper. The East gets it back and Rip scores. But Ray Allen hits a corner three. 32. C-Bills, 2. Ray misses a three from the same spot. Duncan with a board and an outlet to Melo for a dunk. 110-78. Billups with another layup. Ray Allen has another three rim out. BENCH THAT MAN.

Jermaine cuts it to 28. And an Allen three (damn, son) pushes it back to 31. The East calls their THIRD timeout of the quarter, a 20. 2:16 to go in the third.

Melo gets a defensive board and taps it on the glass. And someone hits a baseline J but it’s hard to tell because half the screen is filled with David Aldrige interviewing Gilbert Arenas. I hate in-game interviews.

Tony Parker! 117-84. Vince Carter. Jermaine O’Neal (from Vince Carter). Dirk Nowitzki. 119-88 at the end of three. Ain’t no comin’ back from this one.

I’ve seen Dwyane Wade in commercials way more than I’ve seen him in the game. Yes Virginia, there is an overexposure.

FOURTH QUARTER

Craig Sager interviews Tony Parker, once again splitting the screen from the game action. Hey. Why don’t we just cancel the game and have interviews all weekend?

121-91. KG. LeBron for three (21). Mac miss. Memo baseline off the dish from KG (his first bucket). JO. Ray Allen misses two shots in a row, more misses, KG. 125-96, West. Shaq! He’s playing a LOT. Memo! Again. Four points. Or something like that. Bron to Wade. Marion rims out a three.

And Shaq with the crossover! Through the legs and back! Finally! Misses the jumper over a laughing Okur. Marion the other way. Someone else scores for the East. Timeout.

EXPERIENCE DAVID LEE. Someday soon we’ll be seeing him on All-Star Sunday without his being in a commercial.

DWYANE…WADE! Too little too late, D. Wade. Kobe. Open three. Because Wade tried for the steal. 132-104. The West has set an All-Star record for assists already. KOBE. Again. With a baseline reverse dunk. Sheesh. 24 points. MATRIX. 136-106.

LeBron tries a blind reverse and misses, and Ray Allen turns it over on a one-on-four break. Dwight Howard gets an and-1. The East needs an and-28. He misses anyway, but Bosh cleans up.

Kobe. Front rim, backboard, net. 26 points, 11-18. LeBron. Kobe misses a three. Selfish. Joe Johnson. Melo miss, Amare tap to himself, then dimes it to a wide-open Melo underneath. LeBron three. He’s got a lot of points. His team is still down a Chosen One appropriate 23.

Sages with KG. “I’m 6-11 first off. First off I’m 6-11.” NO YOU’RE NOT, KEVIN. GET OVER IT. Action starts again, Kobe hits another deep one. So does LeBron. Kobe misses. Someone shoots an airball three for the East. KG makes fun of Sages. Back to fullscreen so we can see the game. Thanks fellas.

Gilbert dunked off a trampoline during a timeout? Of course he did. And speaking of timeouts, lets have another one.

AMARE! 20. 145-123. Amare again. Goal hangin’. Bosh gets fouled by someone. Ray Allen’s out, and is already getting his right Jordan XX2 signed by all his teammates. Smart. Veteran move. CARMELO. Bosh. Kobe swatted by Dwight. Amare misses follow. Someone dunks on the East. It’s hard to tell who guys are sometimes. Amare gets an oop from Tony Parker. I have no idea who the MVP should be right now. Dwight Howard misses more free throws. 45 seconds left.

Kobe isolation with some sort of a weird 180-360 hybrid up and under dunk. Sick. You should have entered yesterday too, chicken. Bosh. “Kobe” chant starts. I think. No more baskets. Game over. 153-132, West. Pretty underwhelming game. Although they show the Kobe dunk again, and I think that’s a SLAMadamonth contender. Although I might be leaning towards Dwight’s sticker dunk. Kobe’s gotta be MVP, though.

POSTGAME

Ernie Johnson presents the MVP award? No, he presents David Stern to present the MVP. And although he hasn’t said anything yet, the fact that Kobe’s standing right next to him probably signifies something. I’m smart.

Nice glasses, Ernie.

Kobe gets cheered. Holds trophy. Smiles. Hears “MVP” chant. “It feels good, you know?” No, we don’t know. “Hopefully we put on a pretty good show.” I guess. “It was great [in Vegas]. Hopefully we can come back.” Ever the diplomat.

More commercials. Can you have a post-game timeout?

Oh, that’s all, I guess. Time for 97 straight hours of Law & Order. After this brief highlight montage set to Christina Aguilera. VERY brief.