You know, I always find it ironically amusing how much the general NBA public gets upset over who does and doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star. Because when the weekend comes itself, the incredible competitive spirit that each player performs with to earn that rare honor is completely absent by the time the ball tips on Sunday night.
This isn’t going to be an old-man-yells-at-a-cloud hit piece of "here's how the All-Star Game needs to be changed" or how this current generation of stars doesn’t carry the same gritty mentality as the rough-and-tough decades. Those tropes are tired by my estimation to be quite honest. However, isn't it just a wee bit concerning that we have this exact conversation year after year after year after year?
Let’s Keep it 94 (free plug!): The three-day spectacle is meant to be a celebration of the greatness that this league has to offer and a pat on the back to the players who make it so. It’s a show, a reason to take a break and not take things so seriously. Guys are laughing, and spending time with family and friends and co-workers that have a sensational gift of talent.
(No matter how good or bad All-Star Saturday turns out to be, I will always crack a smile watching these guys dressed to the nines huddled on the sidelines just having a blast.)
With that being said, I cannot truly feel the All-Star Game right now. There just isn’t that “must watch” factor that could absolutely destroy every other professional sport’s marquee weekend if it wanted to, and it’s head-scratching as to why.
Our Nekias Duncan — who was on the ground for Basketball News this weekend in Salt Lake City, shout out to him for that and his amazing work all the time — tweeted something out that really got me thinking.
To clarify, I mean in general with the All-Star Game. Not just tonight.— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) February 20, 2023
There’s a spectrum between giving playoff effort and risking injury (they shouldn’t do that) and what the first three quarters are.
Like, 60-70% would be cool. It doesn’t have to be 5% lol
“It doesn’t have to be 5%.”
Nekias is on point with that message, and five percent may be generous. There has to be a balance in this thing. You don’t want these guys to sustain any type of injuries, and you certainly don’t want a potential setback to cost their respective teams. But can’t there be just a smidgen more “give an F” about the game? You don’t have to compete on every possession. How about once every 10 instead of every 30? Is that a fair compromise?
I was watching the game with a friend of mine at home, and I feel like the biggest fans that support this event can’t even argue with the typical NBA haters when you’re essentially watching a game of HORSE for two hours. It just gives those detractors more fuel.
I’m all for a good parking lot shot — Damian Lillard, a tip of the cap to you because... holy hell — but when deep threes, mostly uncontested and many bricked, make up the shot chart the entire way, it becomes old hat. By the way, some of these lanes were more wide open than pregame shootaround layup lines before actual games.
It just seems as if that aura we’ve been searching for continues to be missing.