MIXING IT UP

Raheel Ramzanali: Some off-the-wall ideas to save NBA All-Star weekend

Lebron might be interested in the dunk contest in Raheel's new world. NBA.com

Well, another NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, but the discussion regarding the weekend is not over. There was once a time when the Saturday night festivities were must-watch TV, but now because we’re desensitized to dope ass dunks or because I’m just older, the night just doesn’t have that oomph it once had growing up. So, being the visionary I am, here are some ways to improve the NBA All-Star Saturday Night festivities.

  • Team Flight Brothers vs Team NBA Dunk Contest: NBA players are so proud to be the best in the world that they hate being challenged for that title so it would be an interesting twist if we had a Team Flight Brothers vs Team NBA Dunk Contest. Simply put, Team Flight Brothers are professional dunkers that travel from show to show. These guys throw down stuff that we haven’t even imagined and mostly do it for YouTube views. Here, I’ll wait as you go down the YouTube rabbit hole of Team Flight Brothers dunks. You back? Yep, now you know why this would shatter ratings and bring the best of the best in the NBA to protect the crown.

  • The Markelle Fultz Rule: The 3-Point Shootout is one of the coolest things to watch, but it gets so boring seeing the best shooters go at it. That’s why every year we need to put in the perceived worst shooter in the game as one of the shooters so we get a point of reference showing how good these shooters really are in the game. Just imagine the cringe factor of Markelle struggling to hit the rim while Devin Booker easily strokes in 24 plus points.

  • One Free Throw Bet: This one is one of my favorite questions to post on Twitter: You have one free throw and if you make it, you get $50,000, BUT you can choose Dwight Howard to shoot it for you and if he makes it, you get $75,000! Pick five fans and they come out and get to decide on national TV how they want to go at this bet. Look, Howard struggles from the line, but he knows the pressure of shooting from the line on national TV. Do you risk missing it all OR go for it all and let Howard get you $75,000?!

  • King of the Court: One of the best games to play with friends after a grueling practice is king of the court. Simply put, this is 1-on-1 with as many guys as we want. The goal of this game is to score 15 on a revolving group of defenders. If you make it, you stay on. You miss? GET OFF and wait your turn to play defense and force a stop. Could you imagine LeBron, Westbrook, James Harden, Durant, etc. going at it for a million dollars to the charity of choice?! This would get a bigger rating than the All-Star game, honestly.

  • Twitter Dunk Contest: Simply put, right before the Team Flight Brothers vs NBA Dunk Contest, we get four of the biggest trash talkers on Twitter to compete in a 8-foot dunk contest. So you can talk smack from your couch, but can you entertain on national TV on a lowered goal?!

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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