For the first time in All-Star Game history, the main event won’t be a matchup between the elite of the NBA’s two conferences. Instead, two teams picked by the leading vote getters, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, will showcase the NBA’s premier talent.
It’s a step toward making what has recently been a non-competitive product more interesting, but it’s not enough. The NBA is the league with the dominating presence over social media. All-Star Weekend should dominate the sports world for three straight days, not just Sunday night. The NBA can make All-Star weekend shine, Monday to Friday, with just a couple changes.
Televise the Draft
We care so much about who doesn’t like each other in the NBA. Half of NBA twitter is gossip over who’s in LeBron James’ burn book this week. That’s why turning the All-Star Game into a playground style, pick your own teams event is a genius idea on the NBA’s part. It’s also why not televising it is the dumbest idea ever.
Can you imagine being a fly on the wall during LeBron and Curry’s draft and being able to see the sheepish grin on his face as he swipes Durant right out from under Steph’s nose? Or watching Kevin Love stay on the board for way too long? The reactions from everyone involved would be worth the price of admission.
The main argument for not televising the All-Star Draft is that the players wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by being one of the last players taken. Just about every recess in America starts with captains picking their teams. If a bunch of third-graders can handle it, I think that some of the best athletes in the world can.
Oh, not to mention the small fortune this event would rake in for the league. To further make it a spectacle the draft should happen that Friday night. That way the NBA can fully devote coverage to it without taking away from any regular season games.
Remodel the Dunk Contest
The Skills Competition and Three-Point Contest are great appetizers but the Dunk Contest is the real reason we tune in on Saturday night. It’s a shame it stinks.
The Dunk Contest is at a point where we’re hardly surprised anymore. When it was first introduced, a player jumping from very far away was enough to get fans to leap off their couch. Nowadays, it takes a car, a drone and a celebrity cameo by Kevin Hart just to get us to look up from our phones. In order to make the Dunk Contest the must-watch event it used to be, the reason to tune in is going to have to come from outside the dunks.
The best part of last year’s Dunk Contest was the Cinderella story of Derrick Jones Jr. Jones had played less than 20 total minutes in the NBA when he made himself known to everyone that didn’t scour D-League highlights on YouTube.
Jones wowed the judges with his super athletic dunks and nearly became the first person to win the NBA Dunk Contest that would probably play more in the D-League than in the NBA. It was nearly a great storyline.
We’re going to take that even a step further.
You don’t have to be a great, or even an average NBA player to be a great dunker. To make the Dunk Contest more interesting, let’s include one street baller to compete with the NBA players. Or he could be a D-Leaguer, it doesn’t matter. Just so long as the NBA can make a storyline out of it and use it to drum up some coverage leading up to Saturday night.
If the NBA really wanted to be ambitious, we can have an open tryout/dunk contest to decide who gets the chance to compete for glory with the professionals.
Have the game determine homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals.
Just kidding. What a terrible idea. I don’t know how a sports league could ever think that was a good idea. Unless it was some dying sport completely out of touch with the youth…
Instead of an All-Star Game, Make it An All-Star Tournament
Essentially we’re going copy the NHL All-Star Game. That’s because the NHL All-Star game is the best of the four major pro sports. It’s just a shame no one watches it.
In 2016, the NHL scrapped its conference format too, instead dividing its All-Stars into the league’s four divisions. Instead of a singular game, the NHL now does a two-round tournament with the winners of the semi-final games playing in the championship game.
Taking that idea from the NHL, the NBA should divide it’s All-Stars into the four teams. We’re going to keep the player captaincy system but just add two more. So if this idea was put into practice this year, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo would be joining James and Curry as All-Star captains as the next leading vote-getters.
We would still keep 24 total All-Stars because each team would only need six players, five starters and one reserve. This would work because, just like the NHL, we would shorten the games. Thirty minutes games split into 15 minute halves would maximize drama and tension while still allowing the fans to get to see all the high-flying acts from their favorite players they could ever ask for. Exactly what the NBA’s been failing in recently.
Did I just make the NBA millions of dollars? I think I did. Hire me already Adam Silver.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.