What a finish. LeBron James and Kevin Durant trapping Stephen Curry, playing defense for the win. The All-Star game appears to be fixed — or are we just blinded by what we saw in the last few minutes of the game?
While the focus is on how to fix the All-Star game, after watching the majority of the events over the weekend, I came to a conclusion: it’s not the All-Star game, but the entire All-Star Weekend that is broken.
Eliminating the East-West teams in favour of captains drafting their teams added a lot of intrigue to the game, but if you take out the last three minutes of the contest, it’s relatively the same glorified pickup game of past. The All-Star Weekend really started last Friday, but it was underwhelming up until the end of the All-Star game. The USA vs. World Rookie/Sophomore game was a watered down version of last year’s main event, the Dunk Contest was merely OK but not great, and the three-point shoot-out lacked more real shooters.
As for my suggestions below, I did not include the part where the team selection should be televised because it won’t happen during the All-Star Weekend, and, of course, it’s already planned to happen next year.
Furthermore, since it varies from host-city to host-city, it’s hard to control what happens during the All-Star Game kickoff/player intros and the half-time break, therefore I won’t have any suggestions about that. Without further adieu, here are my tweaks to the All-Star Weekend.
First, some ideas that missed the cut:
- NBA Players Rap Battle — We don’t want to enable Lonzo.
- E-Sports: NBA Jam Tournament — Hopefully soon, with current players on the roster.
- Timbersports/Strongman Competition - not enough participants outside of Steven Adams, Aron Baynes, Bismack Biyombo, Marcin Gortat (I would pay to see Steven and Aron go head to head on any chainsaw event!).
- NBA Parlour Games - Players probably don’t want the bad publicity of declining the invite for Charades or “Time’s Up.” Just imagine how Skip Bayless would lash out as soon as LeBron James declines the invitation to play Pictionary.
Now, the ten ideas. Some of them are easy fixes, some of them are wild, but all of them need to be heard.
1. Enough of Kevin Hart
I’m sick and tired of seeing Kevin Hart every All-Star Weekend. This year, the Association even doubled down on Kevin Hart by having him host the player introductions. It was not a good idea. At all. It’s time to uninvite Hart to all future NBA-related events — for the good of the league.
2. Change the Rising Stars Event into Rookie/Sophomore 3x3 Mini-Tourney
Eight teams (eight captains to draft their teammates), with four players each, knock-out bracket style. There’s going to be better competition, much more drama, and intrigue. Since there will be 32 players altogether, we might even see Abdel Nader play!
3. Slam Dunk Contest — Change the Scoring System
The “10-Point System/Max 10” rating per vote is too outdated, and it pretty much screws up contestants like Dennis Smith Jr. who had the best dunk of the night. How about a max 100 points per vote? Because sometimes, some 9s are better than the other, but the judge feels restricted to pick between 9 or 10. For example, I’d give Dennis Smith Jr.’s dunk a perfect 100/100, and give Donovan Mitchell’s dunk over a crouched Kevin Hart maybe a 95/100. Then let’s see how the other judges would score the same dunk. This way, there’s more intrigue, and it minimizes the chances of someone getting screwed unless the judge is DJ Khaled.
Also, if the Association is sticking with four contestants, have them dunk three times, taking their best two rounds, and the top two scores move into the Finals. This way, the audience is treated to a guaranteed 12 dunks in the first round.
4. Players-Only Anthem
There are players (and former NBA players) that can sing (not talking about players that only rap, yes I’m talking about Lonzo again), so why not invite them to sing the anthem? I mean, it can’t be worse than Fergie’s rendition, right?
5. Ban Paul George and Kyle Lowry from the Three-point Shoot-out
Back in 2011, Paul George air-balled his first attempt en route to 10 points. Last year, albeit injured, Kyle Lowry only got nine points. Both players came back this year for another brickfest. Unless the ball is rolling off the floor for Lowry to pick up and hoist a three-point shot, I don’t want to see him suffer anymore.
Neither Lowry or George are knock-down three-point artists like Klay Thompson, Devin Booker, or even Wayne Ellington, so how about letting the more pure shooters get a crack at this contest for competition’s sake. For example, invite Troy Daniels, C.J. Miles, etc. They’re smaller stars, sure, but they could put on a better show.
6. How About a Legend’s Game?
With the success of the BIG3, and since the league wants former NBA players (especially the big names) involved, why not have a Legend’s Game? I mean, who doesn’t feel better seeing T-Mac looking like your average (but taller) YMCA dadbod player?
Now take that feeling, and spread it across two rosters of old school players. I mean, Michael Jordan was sitting right there!
7. Half-Court Shoot-Out
Every baller goofs around the half-court shot, so why not incorporate this? Players even bet on this game after practice. If this event happens, screw Vince Carter, we have to bring Chris Bosh back (check 0:40 and 2:06 in the video below).
8. Arcade Basketball Shooting Machine-themed Shootout
We all played this when we were younger — that basketball arcade machine where you have to sink as many shots as possible while the basket change position every few seconds. A life-like version should be easily doable, and since these guys are pros, have them take a crack at the free throw line. Now, this is an event where I’d like to see Kyle Lowry participate.
9. NBA Players Fashion Show
Players are not just athletes; they are also their own brand. (Just don’t tell that to DeMar DeRozan). There’s a growing population now of NBA players also focusing on the corporate and aesthetic extension of themselves — whether it’s tied to the big shoe companies like Russell Westbrook, clothing company like Kevin Love, or independent like Fred VanVleet. What’s more? Instead of paying for models, the players can go on the ramp and strut their wares. Who wouldn’t want to see Bebe at the ramp repping B$Y apparel?
10. Incorporate Win + All-Star Game MVP into MVP/All-NBA Voting
These athletes are millionaires, if not multi-millionaires. Chump change and donations to their “favorite foundation” doesn’t move the needle for them, making the All-Star game just a glorified pickup game. To get these players to care, you have to hit the right buttons, and two things appeal to these NBA players: money and accolades.
Since the Association will not substantially increase the pot money anytime soon, why not put some more meaning into it, and have more things at stake? How about the winner of the All-Star Game MVP having some impact to the MVP and All-NBA voting (maybe a first-place vote?), and the rest of the winning team get an additional vote (a second or third place vote, perhaps?), and maybe none for the losing team?
Just another idea to think about. See you all next year!