Zach Levine Dunk All-Star

NBA All Star 2017

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.

Marcus Shockley is the creator, along with a band of talented (but possibly misguided) misfits, of BasketballElite.com, the Southeast Summer Showcase, NetCast Sports Network and has scouted and written about basketball for longer than any person should openly admit. He spends his days arguing with old men at local barber shops about who was a better enforcer between Bill Laimbeer and Charles Oakley. You can follow his rantings on sports, life and acceptable flavors of ice cream on Twitter @m_shockley

Sweat rolls down the face of Miami Heat’s LeBron James during a break in play against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

    

By Marcus Shockley

The NBA All-Star game hasn’t been interesting to me in some time. Over the years, the NBA as a product has become harder and harder to watch, and to be blunt the only time it’s really interesting is when the playoffs roll around. But this year, as the story line became Lebron making a crucial turnover at the end of the game and therefore continuing to fulfill his ever-growing legacy of fourth quarter disappearances, I could not help but wonder how it is that writers and fans actually take these games in all seriousness.

Look, if you like the NBA All-Star Game, that’s great, and the whole point of the game is to show off all of the NBA’s brightest stars and best athletes under one roof, in one game. It is not part of the season. It does not count in the record column and the stats are not part of the player’s averages. Defense is often non-existent, but who would want to watch an NBA All-Star game without dunks or scoring?

There’s nothing wrong with the NBA All-Star Game, it’s a good time and despite people talking down the dunk contest, they still watch it. It was only a year ago that Blake Griffin jumped over a car; as an aside, it’s interesting how people who have never dunked and never will dunk are so quickly dismissive of the amazing, but hey, that’s the business the NBA is in.

I’ve been critical of Lebron since long before his collapse in the playoffs against Boston two years ago. I see his approach to the game to be a perfect example of what the shoe company deals in big time AAU (especially in Lebron’s high school days) have created, a player whose been coached and trained his entire career to look at winning as being able to sell more product, not winning titles.

But now that people have soured on Lebron, every opportunity to downgrade him is seen as part of his legacy. Missing a crucial pass in the All-Star Game? Come on, that’s hardly important. It’s practically a pick up game under bright lights where the score barely matters and no one could tell you which team won in 1990 or 1995 without having to look it up.

Complaining about a turnover in the All-Star game? Really? The only people who should be caring that much are the people with money on the game, because they are foolish enough to actually bet on an All-Star Game. Everybody else? Just sit back and enjoy the show.