What is it with professional sports and their respective all-star contests?
First baseball linked the winner of their game to home-field advantage in the World Series, an incredibly stupid move made with little forethought in wake of the tied 2002 game.
Hockey has changed its format all the time, from East vs. West to North America vs. the World to a fantasy draft, and now hockey utilizes a 3-on-3 tournament.
The Pro Bowl is awful, who the hell knows what they’re doing? (Something with captains picking teams?) No one is going to watch the Pro Bowl.
Which leaves the NBA, and a contest that is generally fun to watch from an exhibition standpoint, but doesn’t really resemble much of anything related to an actual NBA game.
(Sometimes it does, if things are close later in the fourth quarter, or if Kobe is out there getting his face broken by D-Wade, talking trash to LeBron about a late-game decision to pass, and then rejecting LeBron the year after that when LeBron did decide to shoot. Basically the game misses Kobe.)
But the majority of the time, it’s “basketball”, which is cool in a few ways. The best players in the world try cool shit. That’s fun, most of the time.
It can get bland, though, but of course that’s what’s bound to happen when you have professional athletes playing an exhibition in the middle of the season for zero stakes. They’re trying to entertain as many people as possible without getting hurt. That’s what happens in all the all-star games.
And yet, Adam Silver says they need to make changes. Speaking at the Sloan analytics conference at MIT, he even noted that Chris Paul had reached out to him to try to improve the contest.
Here are a few of his remarks, courtesy Kristian Winfield of SB Nation:
“We will change it by next year,” Silver said Friday. “It shouldn’t be playoff intensity, but the guys should be playing.”
One of Paul’s suggestions, Silver said, was turning over All-Star voting power to team captains, who would select their own players before the game. Silver also joked around with the idea of employing both four-point and 10-point shots.
“Maybe instead of fan ballots selecting the starters, let the captains pick the starters. Again, it is an All-Star Game. It’s out there to have fun,” he said.
Not sure how that would add to intensity, but this would have been a great system to have in place back when Dwight Howard was regularly making the game. It actually feels more like Chris Paul just wanting to be able to play with LeBron.
In fact, most of his suggestions were couched with the underlying truth that no one wants to get hurt playing in an exhibition. And front offices want that even less.
Silver did have a few ideas that do actually sound fun, in theory:
“You hear people talking about four-point shots. Something that’s not about to happen in the NBA, but maybe in an All-Star Game. Maybe there’s a few spots on the floor where it’s a four-point shot. Maybe there’s a half court shot in the last minute that’s 10 points. I don’t know. Maybe those are crazy ideas.”
That obviously doesn’t do much to help things feel like a normal NBA game, but they could be fun in an exhibition setting.
Still, this is just another example of a professional league trying to “fix” an all-star game that frankly doesn’t need fixing. It’s been this way for a long time. It’s one night. It doesn’t matter. People still watch. Kids like it. That should be all that matters.
And please, please, please don’t link it to home-court advantage in the NBA Finals.