In an effort to spice up its All-Star Weekend, the NBA went to a draft format in 2018 with the two players with the highest fan vote totals serving as captains.
On Wednesday, commissioner Adam Silver, during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take, said the league is considering dropping the draft experiment and returning to the traditional East vs. West format, perhaps as soon as the 2024 game in Indianapolis.
“I think we’ve lost sight a bit that it’s about the [All-Star] game at the end of the day,” Silver said.
This, of course, is a roundabout way of saying the fans want to see actual competition rather than a walk-thru, and perhaps putting some conference pride back into the equation will spark a return to the competitive juices we used to see at least in the closing stretch of All-Star games.
Silver then got more specific.
“A lot of it comes down to reinforcing with our teams and our players how important this is for our fans,” Silver said. “… You can’t take for granted, particularly with young players coming into the league, that they understand the generations and traditions that came before them. And I think this is where the league has to reinforce, we don’t expect playoff intensity, but we expect a competitive game for our fans.”
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Silver is clearly very concerned about losing any portion of an NBA audience with more entertainment options than ever. It’s why the league has cracked down with load management regulations, at least trying to ensure that the best product is consistently on the floor as the league looks to secure a new multi-billion-dollar TV/media deal.
Making changes to the All-Star Game, which has become an absolute snooze, would be in the same spirit of thinking. Ultimately, the players have to understand the power they hold over the popularity of their game, which equates to more money in their pockets. After all, fans pay their salaries through wildly expensive ticket prices, cable packages and merchandise.
So, if the players want to continue being paid the huge salaries they currently are (and these numbers are going to skyrocket in the coming years likely), they have to play, first and foremost, and they have to play hard. That goes for the regular season, and to a degree, it also goes for the All-Star game.