Adam Silver reiterated that changes are coming to the All-Star Game next year, in hopes of making it more competitive and less of a defenseless exhibition -- one that allows the few players who try to rack up ridiculous stats, without even a hint of resistance.
"I promise this time that next year's will be different," Silver said before Game 2 of the NBA Finals. "I think we all recognize, and we talked about it at last year's All-Star, we've gotten to the point where everyone seemed to agree it needed to be more competitive. And by everyone, I mean including the players. Chris Paul, who's president of the union, he was the first to say to me the day after the game -- and he wasn't playing in that game -- let's get together and do something about this.
"And we recognize we don't want our players to be playing at a Finals pace where they could risk injury, or anything else. But there's somewhere on the spectrum from where we are now and The Finals. So we're tossing around all kinds of ideas. Having players play for particular charities, picking team captains, picking teams, maybe not making it just East vs. West, there's a lot of great ideas out there."
Here are five ways the NBA can make the All-Star Game a whole lot more interesting, beginning with next season's event in Los Angeles in 2018.
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Let the players pick teams
The East vs. West format (or the USA vs. the World one that has been experimented with in the Rookie-Sophomore game) are both fine if you're looking for a random way to allocate the players that has a theme attached. But wouldn't it be more fun to see guys who never get to play together finally get that chance?
Let the players pick the teams. Captains could be one of the representatives from the best team in each conference at the break (the same way the head coaches for the game are determined), and then they could pick anyone from either conference to be on their side.
Chris Paul could finally play with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, or maybe we would see Giannis Antetokounmpo running the floor with Kevin Durant, to create the most terrifying fast break of all time.
The possibilities are limitless.
Add a 4-point line
Let me begin this one with the following caveat: I have no desire to see a 4-point line added to any NBA games that count. I think it's a needless gimmick that incentivizes poor shot selection, and one that would almost certainly make the game worse overall.
But in an All-Star Game, why not give it a shot?
We'd probably see only the elite shooters like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and James Harden attempt them, unless the game got out of hand and one side was desperately trying to catch up. And if others who were less skilled did hoist some up (with predictably poor results), it would only make us appreciate the great shooters that much more.
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First team to 120 wins
The final score of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game:
The game is way too long when no one's playing any defense, and players spent the bulk of the fourth quarter barely jogging up and down the floor -- except for Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, who were the only ones trying to come home with the game's MVP.
Having a pickup-ball-style winning score in mind would make the game more intense, especially if things are close with game-point on the line.
Make dunks worth 3 points
The consistent lack of defense that's unique to an All-Star Game setting results in a seemingly endless stream of high-flying dunks. But without a defender anywhere in sight (and with no one looking to get posterized in a meaningless exhibition), the excitement wanes fairly quickly, and the game devolves even faster.
Make every dunk worth 3 points. That would immediately raise the competitiveness of the game by a significant amount, because defenders would be incentivized to try to prevent them the way they would in a contest that counts.
Speaking of which ...
Derick E. HingleDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Make the result matter
Russell Westbrook has played the last three All-Star games as if they were regular-season contests, because he had a goal in mind of taking home the MVP trophy every single time. Most of the other players weren't motivated in the same way, but something has to be on the line in order to make the game matter to the participants.
Give the players on the winning team a ton of cash, or some decorative jewelry in the form of a necklace or championship-style ring to make things a little more interesting. Or appeal to their altruistic side, with the winning squad getting a sizable chunk of money to donate to a charity or charities of their choice.
But whatever it is, the end result of the game has to actually count for something; there has to be consequences for the loser, however small those may be. Otherwise, all the changes in the world aren't going to be able to fix an event that the commissioner himself admits is broken.