The NBA announced a change to All-Star Weekend on Thursday. The All-Star Saturday night exhibitions -- featuring the Shooting Stars competition no one watches, the Skills Challenge almost no one watches, the 3-Point Contest, which is still pretty relevant, and the Slam Dunk contest that everyone watches only to complain how they shouldn't have the event anymore -- will now be an Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference battle. From the NBA:
For the first time, State Farm All-Star Saturday Night will feature a new format that pits the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference in a night of competition that will raise money for charity, the NBA and State Farm announced Thursday.
As part of the new format, points earned by each conference throughout the four All-Star Skills Competitions will determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Champion. Also, each conference will have an All-Star Saturday Night captain who will lead his team during the event.
In addition, NBA Cares and State Farm will make a joint donation of $500,000 as part of the event, with $350,000 going to the winning conference's charities and $150,000 to the runner-up conference's charities. All of the charities will be selected by the conference captains, the NBA, and State Farm. The State Farm All-Star Saturday Night captains and the charities receiving donations will be selected and announced at a later date.
So that adds a little bit to the competitons, which is nice. It's not enough to spur the guys to go all-out, but a little incentive is always good. It remains perplexing why the NBA has conferences at all, especially for the playoffs, which would be more entertaining and more competitive if the two conferences were mixed. But if they're going to have them, this is a good plan.
There's always a bit of light jawing between the two conferences and this should only ramp that up, which should be fun for the players.
Now if we can just get H-O-R-S-E brought back in a meaningful way ....