Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Photo: via gainbridgefieldhouse.com

The NBA All-Star break has come to an end this season, and, yet again, it was a laughable snoozefest. I feel that every year’s discussion about All-Star weekend focuses on how bored and tired everyone is and never on the actual events. Before the 2010s, All-Star weekend was a fun event everyone looked forward to. Now, the players bash it and the media fuels the flames by bashing the players for not trying, so we’re stuck in a cycle that leaves fans with an excruciatingly boring weekend. But I believe there’s hope. I think that if two key events are changed, some life can be infused back into all-star weekend.

The Dunk Contest:

The first dunk contest was in 1976 and wasn’t even in the NBA — it was in the American Basketball Association (ABA) before the two leagues merged. The dunk contest has been around for 48 years, and not once has it changed. The biggest stars don’t even participate in it (I’m looking at you, Lebron James) because they simply don’t care about this particular event. But you know what would make them care? If they got schooled in it by “average Joes” just like me and you.

I think the NBA should reach out to pro dunkers and have them in the competition alongside the players. The players would look like amateurs compared to them. People like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, two of the most notorious sports analysts, would clown them, and fans would meme them all over social media. It may sound crazy, but that’s the kind of stuff that really gets to NBA players. Most players aren’t household names, so imagine your moment of fame being the look on your face when someone who isn’t a pro athlete dunks better than you. I guarantee players would take it seriously to avoid becoming memes.

The All-Star Game:

The main attraction of All-Star weekend is the game itself, which is honestly an embarrassment to the league. No defense is ever played; the players take random shots and don’t care in the slightest who wins. But in the same token, I don’t blame them. Why would they risk even the slightest chance of hurting themselves in a game that has no stakes? The players aren’t willing to take that risk, so what we get is a glorified shootaround. But there is one thing that every player cares about because that’s what has gotten them to the league — being the best player on the planet.

Instead of a game, there should be a 1v1 tournament by position group —knockout-style —until one player is left standing. The seedings could be done the same way the All-Star teams are selected, and being one of the few players that make the team could have a similar effect to being selected for All-NBA teams. NBA players are probably the most prideful pro athletes on the planet. Fans are always debating the best players in the league, but this would prove it like nothing else. We’d finally be able to say whether Kevin Durrant or Lebron James is better, or whether Jokic is better than Embiid. What would really push this over the top is having the players promote the tournament. I’m talking full-on WWE style, talking shit about their opponents on the mic, in the stadium for all the fans to salivate over. This would go such a long way toward humanizing players, and really giving fans something to latch onto and get pumped about.

Ultimately, the way to fix all-star weekend is to make the players care. They’re getting millions of dollars, so money won’t push the needle. The NBA has to make it so that All-Star weekend can define their legacy, because the only thing that players may care about more than winning a championship is what they’re remembered for when they lace up the shoes for good.


Nathan Castimore is a third-year Communications Studies major. NC973905@wcupa.edu

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