The All-Star game was known at one point in time as a show of skills between the conferences. You would have players like Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas representing the East versus players like Magic Johnson and David Robinson representing the West. The competition on the court would be staggering as both sides would go back and forth at each other. Over the years, that kind of competitiveness has slowly faded away. Teams have relaxed defensively and instead of competing on that end of the court in showcase games, people want to move out of the way and just let people score because they think that is what fans want to see. As that defense has faded away, the NBA is trying to find a way to get it back to what it once was. The newest idea is naming captains and allowing them to pick their team. This season, the captains were named and for one team it’s Cleveland’s LeBron James and for the other, it is Golden State’s Steph Curry. The rules are they both have to make their first four picks from the All-Star starters that were named (Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins) and then after that, they get to choose from the reserves that are named. All in all, this process could create some interesting teams. Along with some interesting teams, it could also help create the dialog for a super team or superstar pairing to happen.
If you look around the landscape of the NBA, there is an arms race going on and everyone is trying to bring in enough to beat the Golden State Warriors. That team is considered the best in the NBA and is also considered a lock to win the title this season by virtually all the so-called experts. Their run seemingly could keep going as long as they want to keep the core of this team together. So with that being said, don’t expect teams and players just to sit idle and allow this to happen. LeBron could presumably select James Harden and he, along with Chris Paul, could get in LeBron’s ear about joining the Houston Rockets next season. In turn, LeBron could get tight with Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins and talk about starting a new pairing or trio somewhere in the NBA. The possibilities are endless, but the only thing that could change the possibilities are the owners that would be involved. We all know owners do not like to spend big money on contracts and by pairing superstars together, that owner is going to have to spend some money and potentially enter the luxury tax.
As far as the game goes, the change up when it comes to the picking of teams by captains is something that will not change the play at all. Players will still keep ducking away from monstrous jams and allowing players to do what they want on the court. The only way to speak to these players would be to offer a better profit for the winners. Yes, they should want to compete for bragging rights but Benjamins speak louder, along with George Washington’s and Andrew Jackson’s. The players on the winning teams get $50,000 and the players on the losing teams get $25,000. To them, that is chump change and it does not make it worth it to win. So instead of the amount they are given, who not up it to 100,000 for the winning players and 75,000 for the losing players. That amount is just a number thrown out there, but the fact of the matter is the NBA players should be compensated more than what they are whether they win or not.
The NBA should just call the All-Star Game what it is: social weekend. The reason it should be called social weekend is because no one really comes there to compete for much, but to hang out with their former teammates or friends in the NBA. All the time you see NBA players talking and sharing their stories over a drink from the arena with which they are in. That kind of camaraderie is good and bad for the NBA. For those that disagree with me, I wonder what else they see besides players talking and easing up on each other like they are in the backyard playing against a player they know is bad. The new NBA is here and people better get used to it.
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former co-host of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Cubs and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.