The NBA is considering turning back the clock when it comes to the All-Star Game. After using a player draft for the past six seasons, the league is thinking about going back to the previous Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format, according to Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The league and the Players Association have reportedly agreed to talks regarding increasing the level of competitiveness in the annual exhibition as part of a new collective bargaining agreement. Changes to the game could come as soon as next season.
The league began using a player draft during the 2018 season, and while the draft itself is undeniably entertaining, the game has been lacking a competitive fire, and that has drawn the ire of fans. The current format uses the player from each conference who receives the most fan votes as a captain, and those captains then draft their teams from the remaining players, who are divided into starters and reserves, regardless of conference affiliation. Perhaps going back to a conference-versus-conference format would inspire a bit more competition.
The 2023 All-Star Game was especially egregious when it comes to the lack of effort on the players' part. After the game, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone, who coached Team LeBron, called it the "worst basketball game ever played," and he wasn't kidding.
"It's an honor to be here. It's an honor to be a part of a great weekend, great players. But that is the worst basketball game ever played,". "I don't know if you can fix it. I give Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving -- those guys were like, competing. Joel was imploring some of the guys to play harder, to try to get some defense in. No one got hurt, they put on a show for the fans, but that is a tough game to sit through. I'm not gonna lie."
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Malone wasn't alone in his criticism, as Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown echoed Malone's sentiment in his own comments. "This was a glorified layup line," Brown said of the game. "We got to figure out how to make the game a little bit more competitive."
When the NBA's own players and coaches are saying this about the game, it's clear that the product is in need of improvement. Hopefully, they're able to identify and institute some changes to do just that.