Ernie Johnson talks All-Star weekendPosted by Inside Hoops
Q: How many All-Star games is this for you now, and what’s your favorite All-Star memory?
Ernie Johnson: “Oh man, I don’t know how many this is. This is a lot. I mean, this is my 23rd or 24th year in the studio. And for Turner, you know we’ve had the All-Star Game itself since 2003. Up until then we didn’t do the game, we just had everything leading up to it. But we’ve been to a lot of All-Star Weekends, that’s for sure. And I think, really, one of my favorite moments of all-time was 1997, the year they announced the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history. And this was not something that was on the air, but it was happening on Saturday afternoon when they were having the rehearsal for what they would do Sunday with all the 50 legends. And so I was there, just kind of hanging out in the arena and watching the 50 greatest as they put on their jackets for the first time, those great letter jackets that they had. And just watching all of these guys getting autographs from each other, it was just tremendous as they milled around and got their matching orders for how the ceremony would happen on Sunday. And I’ll never forget that. It was watching every great who’s ever played the game right there. It was tremendous.”
Q: What would you like to see added or even eliminated from the weekend to make the event better?
Johnson: “Oh, I don’t know. You know, they tinker with the events now. I still like the events. I love the events themselves. Certainly there have been years in the past where you shake your head kind of at the slam dunk because you see a guy trying time after time to complete a dunk and then the arena gets a little stale. In 2000, that slam dunk contest in Oakland was incredible. And it wasn’t with a lot of props or any of that stuff. It was just Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis I believe was in there. Guys just doing their thing and making dunks in their first attempt, and it was just electric in there. It was like it was a playoff game. People were just going nuts. You wish that you could have slam dunk contests that resembled that one with the big names and the guys who can really dunk doing their thing. And we’ll see what happens this time. I think it’s en vogue for people to criticize it, and they look at the format this year, East against West, and they (grumble). Give it a chance. We’ll see what happens on Saturday night when they have this freestyle round for both sides and then you have these head-to-head battles. We’ll see how that works out. I know that when it comes to the battle round this Saturday, it’s going to be one guy against one guy. You get three chances to make your dunk, and then the judges decide who won that. And so I think it has the potential to be really entertaining.”