Michael Jordan turns 50 this weekend, I'm not sure if you've heard.
In case you missed the incessant career retrospective pieces that ran on Sportscenter or the story of MJ's renting the Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston for his birthday shindig this weekend, the most iconic team sport athlete of our generation hits the big 5-0.
Like many children of the `80's, I have many seminal, Jordan-centric sports memories from my rooting childhood, some good, some bad, all spectacular. Since my invite to Jordan's birthday party this weekend was apparently lost in the mail, I will choose to celebrate the living legend's turning 50 in a way that would make him proud -- by wagering on All-Star Weekend events!
Let's take a look at the prop bets, shall we?
Who will win the NBA Sprite Slam-Dunk Contest? James White (NYK) 5/4
Gerald Green (IND) 7/2
Terrence Ross (TOR) 4/1
Eric Bledsoe (LAC) 5/1
Jeremy Evans (UTA) 8/1
Kenneth Faried (DEN) 8/1
PICK: Another slam dunk field lacking big time in star power. (I will say one nice thing about Dwight Howard -- at least he participated in the Slam Dunk contest a few times. There, that concludes the "speak nice about Dwight" portion of this post.) I'll go with Gerald Green on the strength of the hometown crowd coaxing a few extra points out of the judges. Hopefully, if he's smart, Green will find a way to tie his signature "blow out the birthday candle" dunk in with Michael Jordan's 50th birthday. Who will win the NBA Foot Locker Three-Point Contest? Stephen Curry (GS) 5/2 Steve Novak (NYK) 5/2 Kyrie Irving (CLE) 4/1 Ryan Anderson (NO) 4/1 Matt Bonner (SA) 5/1 Paul George (IND) 15/2
PICK: Unlike the Dunk Contest, the Three-Point Shootout has some relatively serious star power with two All-Stars (Irving, George), one should-have-been All-Star (Curry), and one highly paid role scorer (Anderson). So with all of that said, I'm taking three-point hired assassin and former Rocket, Steve Novak, who amazingly has never participated in one of these before. Getting a definite Jason Kapono vibe off of him.
Who will win the NBA Taco Bell Skills Challenge? Jrue Holiday (East) 3/1 Tony Parker (West) 7/2 Damian Lillard (West) 7/2 Jeremy Lin (West) 4/1 Brandon Knight (East) 11/2 Jeff Teague (East) 11/2
PICK: The last six years we've had six different winners of this one, so that eliminates Parker (last year's winner) from my consideration. I have a feeling this weekend is going to be the coming out party for Portland rookie Damian Lillard, my preseason pick for Rookie of the Year and the runaway winner if the voting occurred this week, so let's go with Lillard here at 7/2.
Quick aside, it's nice that Taco Bell puts its name on one of the All-Star weekend's events. I'm as big a fan of "fourth meal" as the next guy, but having them brand an event with a bunch of svelte, small, quick individuals is a little off to me. I'd rather they just go ahead and sponsor a taco-eating contest among the league's five or six laziest, dope smoking-est players. And having those players actually take about five or six bong hits before the contest would be a necessity. For the record, my field would look like this:
Michael Beasley 1/3 Rasheed Wallace 3/1 Josh Howard 9/2 Lamar Odom 8/1 Bill Walton 15/1 (legend weed enthusiast exemption)
Who will win the NBA Sears Shooting Stars? Team Harden (James Harden, Tina Thompson, Sam Cassell) 2/1 Team Westbrook (Russell Westbrook, Maya Moore, Robert Horry) 2/1 Team Bosh (Chris Bosh, Swin Cash, Dominique Wilkins) 5/2 Team Lopez (Brook Lopez, Tamika Catchings, Muggsy Bogues) 3/1 PICK: Any event that involves shooting a basketball with something at stake, I'll take Robert Horry's team. However, there's really nothing at stake here because...well, who really gives a shit about the NBA Sears Shooting Stars? So give me Team Lopez, mostly because they're the team that would most easily transition into being a trio of carnies. Carnies fascinate me.
Odds to win the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Most Valuable Player Damian Lillard (Team Shaq) 13/2 Kyrie Irving (Team Shaq) 7/1 Kenneth Faried (Team Chuck) 8/1 Kemba Walker (Team Shaq) 9/1 Klay Thompson (Team Shaq) 9/1 Anthony Davis (Team Chuck) 12/1 Ricky Rubio (Team Chuck) 12/1 Brandon Knight (Team Chuck) 14/1 Chandler Parsons (Team Shaq) 16/1 Dion Waiters (Team Shaq) 16/1 Tristan Thompson (Team Chuck) 18/1 Bradley Beal (Team Chuck) 18/1 Kawhi Leonard (Team Chuck) 18/1 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Team Shaq) 18/1 Isaiah Thomas (Team Chuck) 18/1 Tyler Zeller (Team Shaq) 20/1 Harrison Barnes (Team Shaq) 20/1 Nikola Vucevic (Team Chuck) 20/1 Alexey Shved (Team Chuck) 20/1 Andrew Nicholson (Team Shaq) 20/1
PICK: In case you didn't hear it the first time...LILLARD.
Who will score the first in the 2013 All Star Celebrity Game? Usain Bolt 4/1 Kevin Hart 9/2 Common 9/2 Josh Hutcherson 11/2 Nick Cannon 13/2 Ne-Yo 7/1 Trey Songz 7/1 Terrence Jenkins 10/1 John Schriffen 10/1 Ryen Russillo 15/1 Arne Duncan 15/1
PICK: Is it really a celebrity game if the average person has no idea who half of the participants are? Is it really a celebrity game if Ryen Russillo is one of the players? In a value play, I am going to take the R&B musical act with the longest odds and most z's in his name. Let's do this, Trey Songz!!
Odds to win the 2013 NBA All Star Game Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant (West) 13/2 LeBron James (East) 7/1 Kobe Bryant (West) 15/2 Blake Griffin (West) 15/2 Carmelo Anthony (East) 9/1 Dwyane Wade (East) 9/1 Chris Paul (West) 12/1 James Harden (West) 14/1 Kyrie Irving (East) 15/1 Dwight Howard (West) 16/1 Russell Westbrook (West) 18/1 Kevin Garnett (East) 20/1 Tony Parker (West) 20/1 Jrue Holiday (East) 25/1 Brook Lopez (East) 25/1 LaMarcus Aldridge (West) 25/1 Chris Bosh (East) 30/1 Paul George (East) 35/1 Zach Randolph (West) 35/1 David Lee (West) 45/1 Luol Deng (East) 45/1 Tyson Chandler (East) 50/1 Joakim Noah (East) 50/1 Tim Duncan (West) 60/1
PICK: Is anybody really picking against LeBron at anything right now?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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