The NBA All-Star Game is one of the most anticipated events of the basketball calendar. Fans get to see the cream of the crop come together and play an exhibition in what can only be described as a festival of basketball. For years the format had been, but now times have changed. We’re weighing up the pros and cons of the new All-Star Game format.
East vs. West
For decades, the best players in each conference lined up against each other, and it was not the friendly exhibition we have grown used to seeing. Back in the day, the All-Star Game was filled with players determined to battle against each other, and there was always an edge to it. If a cheap shot is thrown, then there would be repercussions. Now there is not even the threat of a cheap shot.
The need for change
For years, basketball fans have been hoping to see a return of the old rivalries in the All-Star Game, but the players are not willing to step things up. It is clear from the secret handshakes that players are all friends now and they don’t view each other as rivals. Fans want to see these top players bring their A-games, but they aren’t going to do that if they’re scared of upsetting their buddy on the other team. It was time to change things around.
A new era
2018 was the first All-Star Game played under the new rules, and it was definitely different. Instead of East and West teams, we now had team captains who got to pick their lineups. This meant for the first time players from the same team in the league could be facing off against each other. We could see players dunking on and breaking the ankles of their closest friends on the court. It was meant to put a spark back into the exhibition game after introducing a new dynamic, but the results weren’t as great as expected.
The captain’s picks bring extra attention to the game, as dream player lineups excite the fans. This change is exciting, but there was an old issue raising its head, there was no defense. It makes sense on some level as players don’t want to get injured trying to stop LeBron in his tracks in an exhibition.
As players don’t fully commit to defending the hoop, the scores can rack up, and in 2019 the score was 178 – 164 to Team Lebron over Team Giannis. The new format was meant to bring more competition to the game, but the same problem exists, players don’t want to commit to defense.
The All-Star Game is a celebration of the best players in the league but with a big focus on getting the ball in the basket. That means the game is never going to be the all-out slugfest that fans want, but the captain’s picks bring a new edge to it.