For the Record
The new NBA on TNT Rig should provide an interesting challenge for the yet-to-be-named H-O-R-S-E participants.

For years fans and analysts have talked about ways to revive the night before the NBA All-Star Game. In its heyday it was a night where you could watch Larry Bird win the Three-Point Shootout and then see Michael Jordan battle Dominique Wilkins in the Slam Dunk Contest. It was a night more talked about and anticipated than the actual game. Think about it. Everyone remembers Jordan's slam dunk from the free-throw line and Bird winning the three-point contest in his warm-ups but does anyone actually remember what happened the next day during the actual all-star game?

The problem is few all-stars want to actually participate in the Saturday night events (thankfully, Dwight Howard has given the Slam Dunk contest a rebirth) and many of the events are played out at this point.

Well, on Tuesday TNT announced that it will add a live H-O-R-S-E game to its programming lineup during All-Star Saturday Night. The interesting thing is the game, which will be played among three players who will be announced later, will take place outside of the US Airways Center before the official All-Star Saturday Night begins.

That's right. Arguably the most interesting and exciting event of the night isn't officially on the line-up. The game will take place on a 45x50 foot court alongside the network's new NBA on TNT Rig outside the arena.  The best part about this, though, is that the rig can rise up to 14 feet off the ground and rotate. Think about the shots that can be created off this thing -- shots from the top of the rig, shots from the top of the truck holding the rig, shots from the top of the makeshift bleachers next to the court. We haven't seen this kind of potential creativity since Jordan and Bird battled it out for a Big Mac.

The best thing about H-O-R-S-E is that everyone plays it, and nobody loves it more than superstars. Ever watch an NBA All-Star practice? Most of it is guys playing H-O-R-S-E and trying one crazy shot after another. Most teams finish off practices that way as well to break the daily grind of practices and games. No one really engages in three-point shooting contests or slam dunk contests or any of the other convoluted games that now litter the Saturday night lineup ... but everyone, from grade-schoolers to grandfathers, has played H-O-R-S-E.

While many of the game's best players have shied away from engaging in All-Star Saturday Night events in the past, something tells me that TNT will find a way to attract the game's best for this inaugural competition. I'm not saying that it will be Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- but I won't be shocked if it is, considering the game will take place on a set that will seat 117 guests and accommodate only a handful of reporters, according to TNT.

This is the sports equivalent of performing at the most exclusive club in Hollywood in front of an audience of your peers. You might not want to do a full-fledged show at a sold-out arena, but there's nothing wrong with jamming in front of a hundred or so friends and a few cameras that just happen to be broadcasting the action to a worldwide audience.


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