Has the NBA All-Star Game become kind of a joke? Yeah, well, of course it is – that’s not new information to anyone. It’s not the downright laughable embarrassment that calls itself the Pro Bowl, but the time when the talent of the East suited up to take on the talent of the West has definitely faded. The game began to first lose it’s luster as true free agency became a real thing, now that players often move between teams more often. I have long considered the NBA All-Star game to be the least credible because of fan voting – players who are well past their prime have been consistently voted into the game in years past simply because of name recognition or fan loyalty. And while none of the All-Star games in the major sports is really a ‘must see’ event, the recent changes to the NHL hockey all-star event really set a new bar in a better way to showcase talent for the fans.
So recently, inspired by the NHL’s 3-on-3 changes, James Blackburn and I grabbed a bite at a local pizza joint and devised a new method for making the NBA All-Star game competitive, watchable and fun. Fueled by too much Italian food, arrogance and chutzpah, we offer this plan to Adam Silver freely to take and implement immediately. However, as a disclaimer, we explicitly do not offer this plan to David Stern.
Step 1: Let the fans pick 24 players – 12 from each conference. Now, I know I said that I didn’t like fan voting, but just bear with me until later.
|Step 2: Coaches/Voting Media, etc pick another 24 players. Now, I know your inner sports purist is probably freaking out a little about this, but again, stick with me for a few minutes. Yes, right now you have 48 names – which is a lot – but consider these your ‘All-Star Nominees’, not the actual rosters. Is it an honor just to be nominated? Of course it is, but let’s table that discussion for now.|
Step 3: Name 6 All-Star Coaches. Pretty easy. You have 6 teams, one for each NBA division.
Step 4: Have a draft. The 6 coaching staffs get a draft order based on the total win percentage. Ties in winning percentage? Go to a coin flip. Come on, this is the All-Star game draft, no need to get too bogged down here.
Coaches draft 6 players each from the pool. So that means a total of 36 players get drafted. 12 players get cut.
Here’s the thing, though: coaches don’t have to stick to a conference. They can draft any player nominated to the game. This pretty much means all of the top players will be drafted first and spread out across the teams. Don’t you want a coach to try and put John Wall on the same team as Kevin Durant? Or put Lebron on the same team as Russell Westbrook?
Step 5: 3 on 3 tournament. Each team has 6 players – 3 starters and 3 coming off of the bench. Set up the tournament however you want – single elimination, win by 2, round-robin – this is pretty much whatever works in the time allotted without the players getting too gassed. James did have one suggestion which would be awesome, though – try to introduce the possibility of overtime and have ‘overtime’ be played 1-on-1 between two players. That makes a soccer shootout at the world cup look like…well, it’s pretty easy to be better than a soccer shootout. You get the idea. Awesomeness!
Step 6 (bonus): Profit. We could have stopped back at step 5, but since the NBA has started putting logos on jerseys, I guess instead of division names for the teams (since the players can be drafted across conference), you can land sponsorship for team names. No, I’m not crazy about watching Team Quaker State take on Team Burger King, but hey, if it gets me loaded teams that probably will never exist in ‘real life’, that works for me.