We have just passed the halfway point in the NBA regular season, and All-Star weekend is less than a month away. This season, the NBA decided to shake up the All-Star Game, abandoning the East vs. West format and instead creating a pool that two fan-voted team captains will draft from.
It is alleged that nine-time All-Star Chris Paul and basketball legend Michael Jordan pitched the new format to the NBA in order to produce actual competitive play on the court instead of watching a glorified shoot-around. And coming from Paul and Jordan, it makes sense. Both are extremely competitive and likely can’t stand watching guys play “olay defense” and “heat-check offense.”
But will this new format suddenly make the players decide to put in at least close to maximum effort? No, probably not. A game that, at it’s best, would be the most exciting game of pick-up basketball you’ve ever seen is now virtually a skills competition. That is, if Commissioner Adam Silver chose to televise the All-Star Game draft.
Allowing the captains to draft live would not only be a smart move, it would be must watch TV with more drama than this season of “The Bachelor.” The drama that could ensue would likely carry into the second half of the regular season and undoubtedly be something to look forward to in playoff matchups.
Silver defends not televising the draft because “there was a sense from the players that it put them in an impossible position.” Yeah Adam, that’s the point.
In reality, we should not have to try and protect the egos of professional adults, who already have gone through a similar process.
The NBA Draft Lottery is already a nationally televised event and players are passed on or fall down draft boards all the time. Lebron James even spoke out on the All-Star Game draft saying, “We’re all grown men.”
And he is right, they are grown adults who are actually the best of the best. Every one of the All-Star players is one of the best in the world at basketball. Why would they get upset if they were picked after someone or last?
Oh yeah, they probably wouldn’t. Or best case, they do get upset and are out to prove something in the game, making it more competitive. But still, Silver has not changed his mind.
If anything, this is the NBA’s way to try and minimize the feuds that have risen the league’s popularity in the past years. Russell Westbrook versus Kevin Durant and Lebron James versus basically everyone else are the storylines that only add to the play we get to watch on the court.
Not to mention, this has already been proven to be a fun, entertaining idea. The NHL created the All-Star Fantasy Draft in 2011 where two captains made selections on live on TV. They even had alcohol for the players and if it wasn’t already entertaining enough, the last player picked won a car.
The NFL also did this with the Pro Bowl in 2014 when Hall of Fame team captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders drafted from the Pro Bowl players pool. Imagine how much more fun it would be with the personalities of the NBA involved rather than a bunch of guys with helmets covering their faces.
This is a frankly a huge missed opportunity for the NBA, and it isn’t going to make the game any better. They hit a homerun with the NBA Awards show last season — it was a change of pace to how leagues roll out regular season awards.
For a league that is usually so great at promoting individual players and their personalities, they dropped the ball here. Hopefully next season the NBA doesn’t worry about hurting the feelings of the best basketball players in the world.