As you have probably heard the NBA has decided to change up the All-Star game, it will no longer be Eastern Conference vs Western. The new format will include 2 team captains choosing their respective teams, but they will have to fill out their rosters on one condition: the pool of players will consist of 12 players from each conference. For me, sports are built on rivalries. Rivalries usually consist of some sort of turf war; think Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn, Yankees-Red Sox… you catch my drift. We constantly have this debate over which state produces the best football players, which college conference is the best, & in basketball it’s usually a part of the competition to prove which gym, school, city etc. is the best. To me, what I see, is the continue AAU-ification of the NBA.
Sure there will be some intrigue as to who is nominated the team captain & how they choose their team. I would implement a couple rules right off the rip:
- Position limits: 5 guards, 5 Wings, 2 Bigs. (You don’t want one team loaded with guards & the other all big-men, variety is important)
- Alternate the picks: If LeBron James wins the coin toss for 1st pick (or however they want to do it) he must choose from the Western conference first & alternate from there.
Ok, now that those rules are in place, I still think this is a miss by the Association. The problem with All-Star games, is that now they are just showcases & they’ve lost all competitive fervor (regardless of sport). No one cares who wins or loses, they just chuck threes & hammer dunks. The problem isn’t with the game itself, it’s the players. If the players don't care, then why should we?
If we are no longer going to use the conferences, why not just choose the top 24 players & get on with it? Many people have asked for that, but I believe that would be devastating for the NBA as a whole. Everyone knows that the Western Conference has featured stronger teams from top-to-bottom. The West has won 6 of the last 9 Larry O’Brien trophies, & if you take LeBron out of the equation, you’d have to go back to the 2008 Boston Celtics to find an East winner. Imagine what the league would look like if perhaps only 4 All-Stars came from the Eastern Conference? Plus, you need to factor in star movement. All-Stars from the East that went West this summer? Carmelo Anthony (injury sub), Jimmy Butler, Paul George, & Paul Millsap. Only one player went West-to-East, Gordon Hayward, who went to the Boston Celtics from the Utah Jazz.
Most people can do without the NBA All-Star weekend & as Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson said, “it’s whatever, you can change things up, it doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t change anything…it’s not as competitive as it once was, so you’re doing something to change it because it’s really kind of a joke”. That comes directly from a guy in the league. Now there have been some who like the new change, like the Warriors Stephen Curry who said, “I think it’s great for the game to kind of spice it up a bit…give the fans a little bit more interest in how the teams are going to unfold…”. Sure there may be some intrigue into the selections, imagine LeBron & Kyrie or Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook being forced to play together again? But as for the game itself, it won’t matter to the fans, because it doesn’t matter to the players…
-Anthony Bellino is the host of “The Fox Sports Morning Blitz”, weekday mornings from 7am-9am on Toledo’s Fox Sports Radio 1230 & 1230foxsports.com/listen