When the NBA left the Shooting Stars competition out of this year’s All-Star Saturday Night lineup, it left in its wake a sizeable void in the hearts of fans and players alike.
Ok, maybe not, but what now? In All-Star Tweakin’ we try to find the next great Saturday night event to join the skills competition, dunk contest and three-point shootout.
Introducing the Bigs vs. Kids free-throw competition. Originally, this event was slated to be exactly as it sounded – some of the NBA’s worst free-throw shooters would square off against eighth graders and see who could make more shots from the line.
Players were reluctant to agree to those rules, fearing embarrassment. The format was rejigged and now pairs an NBAer with a child from his team’s city.
Each team is given 10 foul shots per round with five being taken by the child and five being taken by the NBA player. The team that posts the better score advances to the next round. In the event of a tie, teams will select one of their participants to shoot three free-throws with the higher score moving on. This process repeats until a winner emerges.
Shooting order is determined by simple coin toss prior to each round.
1) Dwight Howard + Houston child representative
Howard earns the top seed in the tournament due to his 55 per cent shooting rate from the charity stripe. By no means is that good, but it's better than the guys he'll be going up against.
2) Hassan Whiteside + Miami child representative
Whiteside is the event's biggest wild card. His percentage earns him the second seed, but he's attempted 200 less free-throws than Jordan and Drummond.
3) DeAndre Jordan + Los Angeles child representative
This event wouldn't be complete without including the guy who has forced the NBA to think about changing its rules to avoid 'hack-a-DeAndre' situations.
Andre Drummond + Detroit child representative
Drummond boasts the worst free-throw percentage in the NBA, making only 132 of his 381 attempts. Can he pull off the Cinderella story?
Team Howard vs. Team Drummond: The matchup on paper heavily favours Team Howard, and that's exactly how it plays out. Howard and his partner connect on a very respectable six out of 10 attempts. Drummond fails to make any of his shots, wasting a strong 3-for-5 effort from his partner.
Team Whiteside vs. Team Jordan: It's unclear if you can call this an upset, but Team Jordan combines to post a whopping 7/10 score, setting the bar very high. Whiteside does his part by surprisingly making four of his shots, but his teammate chucks up an air ball on the tying attempt.
Team Howard vs. Team Jordan: Jordan wins the toss and elects to allow Team Howard to shoot first. The Rockets' centre and his partner replicate their first-round score with a 6/10 and feel pretty confident.
Jordan's teammate gets a little overwhelmed by the moment, missing his first two but rebounds nicely to hit the final three. Jordan misfires on his first and then a magical moment happens. He decides to swallow his pride and go with the granny shot. The crowd loves it and Jordan uses the backboard to nail all four of his remaining attempts.
Team Jordan takes home the big prize. Or do they?
In a shocking twist, it is revealed that Jordan and his partner must now face off to determine the true winner. Jordan leads off and continues with his granny technique. He is clearly a bit rattled by the twist and only makes three out of five. His former partner smells blood in the water but can't quite pull out the win, posting a score of 2/5.
The NBA is saved some embarrassment. At least until next year's event.