The NBA All-Star Game will never be as competitive as we’d like it to be
So the CommentTHE is considering changing All-Star Game again in format. Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov report AthleticThis topic has recently been discussed among the Board of Governors (team owners) and CEOs. Thatassociation wants to increase the competitiveness in the All-Star game, and that appears to be one solution.
Should the NBA fix the All Star game?
You may have forgotten, but the format of the game changed in 2018, partly due to the lack of competitiveness in the game. And that’s nothing new for the NBA All-Star Game. It’s a glorified 24 Hour Fitness pickup game for the past decade, regardless of format. Teams barely play defense in the regular season, so it shouldn’t be a shock that no one goes out in the All-Star Game. Players aren’t encouraged to go all out like they used to. That’s exactly how the players see it.
Thirty years ago, when role players weren’t bringing in eight-figure salaries, guys wanted every extra penny. So the added bonus of playing on an All-Star game winning team was huge even for the stars of the game back then. Now, most players who play in the All-Star game are already on $100+ million contracts that are guaranteed, so playing hard in an exhibition where injury is a possibility is out of the question. We are fortunate that they play hard in the closing minutes when the game is on the line. But expecting every player to go full throttle in a game that means nothing to them is just naive.
Keep the draft aspect even if the game goes back to East-West
If the NBA goes back to East-West, the drafting aspect of the game should be kept. Fans have enjoyed this in past years and it adds a little spice to the event. Whether it’s players being ‘taken down’ or guys talking trash to each other like we’ve seen James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the early years of the current format. This drama heightens the spectacle, as these individual encounters are usually the biggest competition around the game.
There could be more team captains if the league wanted to keep this wrinkle. Each team captain could only choose from players in his own conference. That would be the easiest way to reform that process and still make it fun for the fans while also creating content for television, which is what this is all about. It always comes back to advertising, to TV partnerships and dollars, dollar bills. That’s the name of the game.
As for players taking this game as seriously as any other, that’s just a pipe dream. The NBA can make all the changes they want and it still doesn’t matter. That ship has sailed a long time ago and is not coming back. Going back to the East against the West would be a nice bit of nostalgia, but that’s about it. We will continue to hear the same complaints from fans and media that we have heard for years. Other than money, there isn’t much incentive for players to play hard for 48 minutes in an All-Star game. If you have players who can make $5-10 million a year and never sniff an All-Star selection, good luck getting high-paid stars playing this game as if that means anything.