Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.
Story of the Day: Fun and Games
The All-Star Game takes place on Sunday in Houston, but the NBA will spend the entire weekend celebrating its midseason pause.
Going all the way back to the days of Larry Nance battling Julius Erving and Michael Jordan taking on Dominique Wilkins, the dunk contest has been as much a part of the weekend as the game itself. And despite the contest taking a beating from critics as big names, like LeBron James this year, pass on showing off their aerial skills, SportsNation voters still rate it as the most compelling skills event. So who will take home the title this year? Nate Robinson is the sentimental pick and Andre Iguodala is the chic sleeper, but voters give defending champ Josh Smith the best shot.
SportsNation voters don't think Ray Allen compares to Larry Bird, the original king of the 3-point shootout, but the Seattle sniper is still the popular pick to take home top honors in the weekend's other signature skills competition. As for defending champ Quentin Richardson? Well, at least he has last year's title to savor. And even if Richardson flunks this year, he could be in good company. Did you know Michael Jordan holds the all-time worst single-round score in the shootout?
Which team will win the NBA All-Star Game? (10,139 votes)
55.4% Eastern Conference
44.5% Western Conference
David Stern thinks his league is in good shape, but does SportsNation care about the NBA? The All-Star Game is a major showcase, but only 30% of voters rate it ahead of the Daytona 500, Winter Olympics and Tiger Woods on this weekend's schedule.
Which All-Star competition most interests you? (97,103 votes)
58.9% Dunk contest
21.3% 3-point shootout
9.1% Skills challenge
8.1% Rookie game
2.4% Shooting stars
Who will win this year's dunk contest? (7,668 votes)
33.0% Josh Smith
32.0% Andre Iguodala
26.0% Nate Robinson
8.9% Hakim Warrick
Who would win the ultimate NBA dunk contest? (75,887 votes)
42.4% Michael Jordan
22.1% Vince Carter
16.9% Dominique Wilkins
12.4% Julius Erving
6.1% LeBron James
Voice of the Fan: Dunkers
Gotta cheer for Nate Robinson. Everyone remembers when Spud Webb won. Not that it would be the same, but who doesn't like the little guys dunking?
Getting traded was about the only way Darko Milicic was going to find his way into the All-Star news rotation. Mission accomplished. SportsNation voters think Orlando got the best of the deal that landed Darko, but only 10% of voters think he'll earn multiple All-Star appearances in his career. Who is to blame? Well, 48% think Larry Brown is "largely responsible" for Darko's failures and only 13% absolve Brown of any blame. Vote on the Darko
"Darko has all the tools to be a star. He's 7-foot-1, athletic, strong, and is very skilled. But he has to become a basketball player again. The good news is that I think Orlando is the right place for him to try.
Chad Ford in chat
Gotta go with Nate Robinson. The judges always like the little guys, and everything they do appears more spectacular because of the perspective.
Tim (San Antonio)
Andre Iguodala. The guy is a freak of nature and will come with a game plan to take down the champ.
I know everybody loves Nate Robinson, but the fact of the matter is he's too small to do anything fancy. Maybe a bounce-off-the-backboard, two-handed slam, but that's it.
Pete (New York)
Nobody is giving Hakim Warrick a chance, so I'll go with him. He's so long, he'll look like Larry Nance out there.
I have a new proposal for the dunk contest: a hoop which moves up after each round! These guys are getting too much air; we have to make it tougher.
Remember all the pictures of Spud Webb high off the ground, at the rim dunking? Sheer freak nature of it wins over the hearts of millions. Nate Robinson.
Who will win this year's 3-point shootout? (2,040 votes)
41.4% Ray Allen
22.6% Chauncey Billups
17.9% Dirk Nowitzki
11.5% Raja Bell or Jason Terry
6.3% Quentin Richardson
Who would win the ultimate NBA 3-point shootout? (32,887 votes)
56.8% Larry Bird
24.1% Reggie Miller
8.4% Craig Hodges
7.0% Ray Allen
3.5% Peja Stojakovic
Voice of the Fan: Shooters
Chauncey Billups will win. Ain't no way Q-Rich is defending his title; he's shooting 31 percent this year.
Pete (New York)
Well, Ray Allen is the best shooter in the game, so he seems like a good pick.
Next year's winner: J.J. Redick
Josh (Clintwood, Va.)
Raja Bell? Fine, I'm going with him. He does have the second best three-point percentage of the field.
I'm going with Ray Allen. Chauncey Billups is good, but I think he needs a buzzer and a hand in his face. Allen's shot is beautiful.