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Volume 24 No. 197
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New NBA All-Star Game Format, Payouts Improve Competitiveness

Players seemed invigorated by the new All-Star Game format after years of all-offense, no-defense games
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Team LeBron defeated Team Stephen 148-145 in last night's NBA All-Star Game in L.A., and Commissioner Adam Silver said that he was "pleased with the new format" for the game and "believed next year's player draft would be televised," according to ESPN.com. Silver: "I thought it was incredible." Asked about the new format's player draft not being televised this season, Silver said, "Maybe we're overly conservative because then we came out of [talks with the NBPA], and the players were, 'We can take it. We're All-Stars. Let's have a draft.' So it sounds like we're going to have a televised draft next year." Raptors G DeMar DeRozan said of the draft, "Televise it. Give the people what they want to see" (ESPN.com, 2/18). ESPN.com's Kevin Arnovitz wrote last night's ASG was the "most satisfying ... in years." It brought "much greater vigor" than last year's game played under the traditional East-West format. Cavaliers F LeBron James, who captained one of the teams, said, "It definitely worked out for everybody." Warriors F Kevin Durant: "We wanted to kind of change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke" (ESPN.com, 2/18). 

EVERYTHING THEY HOPED FOR: In DC, Tim Bontemps writes the new format provided the "kind of entertaining performance basketball fans and NBA decision-makers hoped they would get." It "turned out to be more successful than even the league’s most optimistic hopes" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/19). In L.A., Tania Ganguli writes the format and new financial incentives "seemed to work" (L.A. TIMES, 2/19). In Boston, Gary Washburn writes it was "one of the more competitive All-Star Games in more than a decade." The new format "seemed to invigorate the players after years of all-offense, no-defense snoozers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/19). The AP writes the game was an "uncommonly entertaining showcase" where a "real basketball game broke out" (AP, 2/19). ESPN's Mike Golic said, "I liked it. You actually saw some defense at the end." He added, "I like the way the teams are split up. I look forward to them televising the draft next year" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 2/19). FS1's Shannon Sharpe said, "This was a big improvement, this was in the direction the NBA needed to go" ("Undisputed," FS1, 2/19). ESPN.com's Arash Markazi tweeted, "One of the most competitive NBA All-Star Games in years. A far cry from last year’s farce." USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt: "Format changes worked and created a more competitive game. Kudos to all involved in making that happen." Bloomberg View's Conor Sen: "The NBA has to be the best-governed sports league in America right now by a mile."

GO HARD OR GO HOME: In Boston, Mark Murphy writes the game was the "best All-Star Game in memory" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/19). In San Jose, Mark Medina notes the game "offered an entertaining finishing after laboring through a boring start" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 2/19). In N.Y., Marc Berman writes the contest "raised the level of intensity, defense and winning spirit" associated with the ASG (N.Y. POST, 2/19). Also in N.Y., Malika Andrews writes it "seems like that overhauled format worked, after all" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19). USA TODAY's Sam Amick: "Consider this hoops experiment a rousing success" (USA TODAY, 2/19). In N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes the game began as a "loosey-goosey All-Star exhibition," but it "turned fiercely competitive in the second half" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/19). In California, Bill Oram writes the new format will "take some getting used to." It was "hard to remember as the game went on who was on which side" after generations of fans were "raised on East vs. West" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/19). In L.A., Elliott Teaford writes the event was "every bit of what it has become over the years ... nothing more, nothing less" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/19).

OTHER FACTORS AT PLAY:In S.F., Scott Ostler writes, "Do not give credit to the format change." It will be "hailed by many as the savior of the dying All-Star Game, but there were at least two other larger factors at play." Ostler: "Is it possible that the league quietly made it known to this year’s All-Stars that their midseason showcase had become an embarrassment and that they’d better start playing basketball, or else?" Also, people should not "discount the influence" of Fox News and anchor Laura Ingraham's comments criticizing players for speaking out on political issues. The format "played a much smaller role than did the new payoff program, and politics" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/19). SI.com's Andrew Sharp wrote improving the ASG was a "low bar and the NBA cleared it with room to spare" (SI.com, 2/18). CBSSPORTS.com's James Herbert wrote the the game "could not have been confused for a playoff game," but it "was not embarrassing, either." Silver has "shown that the NBA is open to tinkering with this product, the players were committed to getting it on the right track, too." Herbert: "Happily, this paid off with an honest-to-goodness exciting finish." Now that this new precedent has been set, the All-Star Game "should only get better" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/18). ESPN's Golic said outside of the entertainment, the weekend "was good from Friday night to Saturday night to Sunday" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 2/19). But CBSSN's Adam Schein said, "I loathe this new format. ... I can't stand that there was a draft and ... it wasn't televised at least. Get a little bang for your buck" ("Time to Schein," CBSSN, 2/16).

MONEY IN THE BANK: The TIMES' Andrews notes this year's game "had a bigger cash prize," with the purse for the winning team "increased to $100,000 from $50,000 per player," with players on the losing team getting $25,000 each" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/19). Meanwhile, the winning team of the game donated $350,000 to the charity of its choice, while the loser donated $150,000. James before the game addressed the crowd at Staples Center, noting his team was playing for the After Schools All-Stars of L.A. Curry also addressed fans, noting his team was playing for Brotherhood Crusade of L.A. ("NBA All-Star Game," TNT, 2/18). Celtics G Kyrie Irving said, "They'll bring up the cash prize, but, $100,000 to $25,000, I think everybody in this room would be doing the same things we were doing" (CLEVELAND.com, 2/19). The GLOBE's Gary Washburn writes Irving "honestly said the increased financial incentive ... had something do with the increased competition." Irving: "There was a goal that you wanted to attain" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/19).

AND THE CROWD GOES ... QUIET? In S.F., Connor Letourneau writes a "celebrity-dotted Staples Center crowd was eerily quiet much of the night" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/19). The TIMES' Ganguli writes a more competitive game "didn't mean a more electric atmosphere." The crowd was "so quiet at times that it was possible to hear the players' conversations" (L.A. TIMES, 2/19). THE ATHLETIC's Anthony Slater writes it "wasn't a perfect night," in part because the atmosphere "was tame" (THEATHLETIC.com, 2/19). Basketball HOFers including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Jerry West were "seated together at courtside" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/19).

ON TO THE NEXT ONE: In Charlotte, Katherine Peralta notes next season's NBA ASG in the city is a "massive undertaking that has involved years of planning, thousands of man hours worked, dozens of site visits and a dramatic shift in state law." Hornets Project Management Dir Kate Hussmann said, "It’s a double-edged sword because we also have a lot to figure out that other cities have down pat. But it’s a huge opportunity to showcase our city." The NBA is calling next year's game the "biggest sporting event" Charlotte has ever hosted, and the game will be a "bigger strain on Charlotte’s resources ... than it would be in bigger cities." Hussmann said that the NBA will be "sending a contingent of All-Star planning personnel on regular visits to Charlotte starting in early March." Hornets G Kemba Walker said, "It’s gonna be interesting, man. Small city. But it’s going to be a lot of fun. The city of Charlotte is going to love it" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 2/19).