NBA commissioner Adam Silver promises format changes to make the NBA All-Star Game more competitive before next year’s edition in Los Angeles after a high-scoring affair last month.
“We will change it by next year. It shouldn’t be playoff intensity, but the guys should be playing,” Silver said at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.
Silver said Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, the National Basketball Players Association president, spoke with him about the need for changes after almost no defensive moves were made in the Western Conference’s 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference at New Orleans.
“Chris said, ‘We need to fix this,’” Silver said. “There is kind of a groupthink notion out there that you have general managers and coaches in essence saying, ‘Go easy, don’t forget this is just for fun.’ I just think this is one where we just have to reset.”
Silver said Paul suggested the same group that negotiated a new collective bargaining deal — featuring Michael Jordan of Charlotte among the owners and Cleveland Cavaliers players LeBron James, Kyle Korver and James Jones among others — figure out a fresh All-Star idea.
Silver said possible NBA changes include team captains picking players, an idea the NFL and National Hockey League have used, and a 4-point shot.
“It is an All-Star Game, and you are out there to have fun,” Silver said.
“You hear people talking about 4-point shots, something that’s not about to happen in the NBA but maybe in an All-Star Game — maybe there are a few spots on the floor where it’s a 4-point shot, maybe there’s a half-court shot in the last minute that’s 10 points.”
‘It’s a joke’
The NBA is not the first US sports league to struggle with lackluster all-star contests.
The NFL has tweaked rules and even used a alternating roster selection from a pool of talent to try and improve its Pro Bowl, with players not wanting to risk injury in a contest after their title hopes are over.
The NHL’s contest, a mid-season affair like the NBA, has turned its All-Star event into a tournament of 10-minute games among lineups from each of four divisions.
Major League Baseball made the league that wins its All-Star Game the league whose champion has the home-field edge in the World Series in a bid to add spice to the mid-season matchup.
Major League Soccer had used two all-star sides in an East-West format but now assembles one MLS squad to face a top European side in its All-Star affair.
New Orleans playmaker Anthony Davis scored an All-Star Game record 52 points this year, 10 more than Wilt Chamberlain’s 55-year-old record, in sparking the West near 200 again after reaching 196 in 2016.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who guided the Western Conference All-Stars, said players must make the event more of a contest, calling the lack of intensity “embarrassing” and “a joke.”
“We could talk about gimmicks and talk about anything we want. Whether it’s the money or involves charity, it just comes down to the players taking it seriously,” Kerr told ESPN.
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