There’s nothing more irritating in terms of sports discussion than the constant bickering over All-Star Games. From the NFL’s Pro Bowl to the NHL’s All-Star Game festivities, every professional sports league’s All-Star Game is constantly an easy target for meaningless sports banter.
And there’s no solution that can placate both the talking heads and the league executives griping about them. The Pro Bowl is bashed for being meaningless and coming at a point in the NFL season where nobody even wants to watch it. The MLB All-Star Game, on the other hand, was bashed for being too meaningful, as, up until recently, its outcome determined home-field advantage in the World Series.
So there’s no adequate solution. And the various league commissioners need to accept that and move on. All-Star Games are fun events in place for the players playing in them, the fans in attendance and any fans at home tuning in to enjoy. They’re not supposed to be serious. It’s supposed to be a casual break from the seriousness of regular game action.
Commissioner Adam Silver needs to recognize and accept that. The head of the NBA was evidently not too pleased with the 192-182 All-Star Game that recently took place, telling the media, “We will change (the All-Star Game) by next year. It shouldn’t be playoff intensity, but the guys should be playing.” Clearly referencing the lack of defense that has been a mainstay of All-Star Games in recent years, Silver is obviously taking a page out of other leagues’ books and meddling with something that doesn’t really matter.
The NBA has always been a star’s league, and today’s NBA is a scorer’s league. So it’s only appropriate that the All-Star Games of this era feature over 350 collective points. When James Harden is one of the faces of the league, and he half-asses his defensive play for the majority of every game, the defense of the All-Star Game shouldn’t be one of Silver’s concerns.
How about revising the Hack-a-Shaq rule? How about considering implementing a ban on zone defense once again? How about amending that loophole that allows players bought out after the trade deadline to sign with contending teams and thus be able to suit up for them in the postseason? How about improving the state of the D-League? How about adding additional rounds to the NBA Draft? How about all of these things that are far more prudent and relevant to the overall status of the NBA than ramping up the defense in the freaking All-Star Game, which matters absolutely none.
In that same interview, Silver referenced the possibility of adding four-point shots or a halfcourt shot worth 10 points to the All-Star Game. So basically making a mockery of the game that should highlight the sheer skill of NBA’s superstars. For the most part, Silver has done an excellent job since taking over as commissioner in 2014, but this is a Rob Manfred-esque move right here.
Similar to Manfred’s dumb-ass ideas concerning how to speed up gameplay, Silver’s dumb-ass ideas for how to make a meaningless game somehow meaningful are a waste of thought and energy. If it bothers Silver that badly, he should pay the winning players a boatload of money and the game’s MVP an even bigger boatload of money. Problem solved. Don’t try to alter how the game is played, thus effectively clowning on the game of basketball, and assume that those alterations will magically convince the participants to play lockdown defense.
Better yet, Silver just needs to forget about it and move on. Honestly, the real moneymaker of NBA All-Star weekend is the Slam Dunk Contest, and it has sucked for a handful of years now. So, if anything, that needs to be fixed before the All-Star Game. Regardless, the NBA has several potential fixes that don’t necessarily need to be made but certainly could pay dividends if they were. And they’re all far more important than the defense being put on display in the All-Star Game. So straighten out your priorities, Commish. You used to be one of the good eggs.