NBA changes All-Star game format

This week the NBA announced changes to the All-Star game, effective this season. Instead of the traditional Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format, the NBA is moving in the direction of fantasy basketball, eliminating the conference limitation. Now, the top vote-getters regardless of conference will be participants in the All-Star game.

The top two vote-getters will be the captains of their respective teams. The captains will choose their own squad. For instance, if LeBron James and Kevin Durant are 1-2 in total votes, it would be Team LeBron vs. Team Durant with the two alternating picks until their roster is set. The draft itself would be intriguing from the gamesmanship aspect.

Would LeBron draft Kyrie Irving? Irving is the man James played beside and won championships with in Cleveland.  However, James felt jilted when Irving decided to leave LeBron and the Cavaliers this offseason.

Would Durant take Russell Westbrook, his former running mate in Oklahoma City? Their perceived falling out since Durant left Oklahoma City has been well documented.

The NFL tried this format for a couple of seasons. The league went back to their traditional way of selecting the Pro Bowl participants. Football trying this concept is a completely different animal. The NFL is a violent sport full of high-impact collisions. The Pro Bowl is nothing more than a glorified version of two-hand touch football. No team and no fan wants their Pro Bowl talent getting seriously injured in the Pro Bowl. The repercussions would be too severe and could set a team back years.

The NBA has no such issue which makes the change in the format a joke. Yes, the captain aspect and the fantasy draft aspect is intriguing. We will all watch it to live out the awkwardness and gamesmanship involved. The problem isn’t the participants or the fact the Western conference is clearly superior to the Eastern conference.

The problem is the effort put out by all the players involved. No one plays any defense and players take half-court shots for fun. The players run half-speed up and down the court. Terrible shooters like centers and power forwards take ill-advised three-point shots. Players choreograph alley-oops and one-on-one plays regularly. The winning side in the All-Star game averages 150-160 points. In the last two seasons, the winning All-Star squad posted 196 and 192 points, respectively. The two seasons before that, the winning squad posted 163 points both times. Trying to break the scoreboard is not entertaining in a game where no defense is being played.

There are no violent collisions. There is also no pride in representing team or conference. That pride hasn’t been in the NBA All-Star game since the 90’s. What is the NBA’s excuse for the lack of hustle that renders the game with the greatest collection of talent in a season unwatchable?

Don’t be fooled by the smoke-and-mirrors the NBA is giving us here. After the novelty of the draft concept is over and fans still don’t tune in, the NBA will go back to East vs. West the same way football did. Get the players to play like they give a damn about the legacy of the game and the names on the front and the back of their jersey, and perhaps then we’ll watch.

The Greg One

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