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Power Rankings: NBA can learn from other All-Star outings

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

The puck is now in the NBA's court, so to speak.

With the sports world raving about the innovative player draft at this past weekend's NHL All-Star Game, the focus now shifts to other sports that have gotten heat over outdated and uninteresting formats.

And that's pretty much all of them.

The NFL tried something new Sunday -- having their quarterbacks wearing red throw the ball to the guys in white. That increased scoring, but not in a desirable way.

The NBA doesn't have time to tinker with its rules before the Feb. 20 exhibition in Los Angeles. But you can bet forward-thinking analysts will be imagining how an NHL-style player draft -- and different elements unique to "All-Star" games in other sports -- could be incorporated into next year's showcase in Orlando.

Here are some ideas other sports have tried, and I how well I imagine them possibly going over in an NBA All-Star Game:

Play the game during the postseason (NFL)

Thumbs down. Yeah, I know, the Pro Bowl got record ratings Sunday, so maybe there's something to slotting the NBA All-Star Game between the conference and league finals. Uh, no. Record ratings just mean the previous viewership was even worse.

Hold the game at a neutral site (NFL)

Thumbs up. This obviously works for the NFL, and it could work for the NBA as well in the right locale. Las Vegas knows how to put on a show. Imagine what it could do with an NBA All-Star Game given 52 weeks to prepare.

Allow the All-Stars to pick their own teams (NHL)

Thumbs (way) up. The only reason the NBA won't institute this brilliant addition in Orlando is it would be seen as flat-out copying. So expect it two years from now at a site yet to be announced. Hmmm ... Las Vegas?

Select a participant from every team (baseball) Thumbs down. "Ladies and gentleman, now entering the game, replacing LeBron James ... Mo Williams." Booooooo ... Contest a series of games (golf) Thumbs down. The Ryder Cup stretches out its "All-Star" competition over three exciting days, using three different formats. Actually, the NBA mirrors this in a way with its Rookie Challenge, dunk competition and All-Star Game. Anyway, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson pretending to be friends while playing alternate shot on a Friday was always painful to watch.

Home-field advantage in the league finals to the winner (MLB)

Thumbs up. If you don't like this idea -- and, really, who other than me does? -- you really don't grasp how unfair the current system is. Consider this: The Heat will play 20 games against five of the worst teams in the league -- the Cavaliers, Raptors, Wizards, Nets and Pacers -- this season. The Lakers will play 10. Gee, guess which team is going to wind up with a better record, and thus the home-court advantage in their inevitable Finals series?

Change the defensive rules (NFL).

Thumbs down. There's no blitzing in the Pro Bowl. Restricting the defense similarly in an NBA All-Star Game would mean even less defense -- and that's impossible.

Here's something new: The Lakers are no longer a Top Five team in this week's CBSSports.com NBA Power Rankings.


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