Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

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The NBA All-Star Game Needs a Refresh

The recent NBA All-Star game showed the major flaws that have developed in recent years with the event. Players no longer show effort or interest, and the NBA needs to change the purpose of the game in order for it to return to the entertaining and yet competitive display of talent that it used to be.
Photo+courtesy+of+Michael+Tipton
Photo courtesy of Michael Tipton

NBA All-Star weekend is a star-studded event meant to celebrate the game of basketball. Celebrities, ex-NBA players, and current NBA players come together and put on a show for the public. For three days, the real NBA season is forgotten, and the basketball community gets to enjoy some light and fun competition.

Over the years there have been some legendary All-Star moments: Stephon Marbury hitting a go ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in 2001; Dwyane Wade putting up 28 points on 75% shooting to lead his team to a 141-139 victory in 2010; and, just two years ago in 2022, ex-Cleveland Cavalier Lebron James scoring the game winning shot – in Cleveland. 

However, the spectacle loses some of its appeal without the competitive ingredient. With no real incentive to win, we don’t expect players to play all out for four quarters of top quality basketball. We expect the wide open layups, half court shots, and creative dunks – this is an All -Star game after all. The issue, especially in the All-Star game two weekends ago, is that I see more effort at my local YMCA than in a game with the best basketball players in the world.

The game was a bad joke. Players were running up and down the court halfheartedly, throwing up ridiculous shots and playing absolutely no defense. It’s an insult to players who weren’t chosen to be All-Stars, a disgrace to the league, and most importantly it’s an injustice to fans. 

Are injuries a concern? Of course! No player, team, or fan wants to see one of their stars get injured in a game, least of all in a game that isn’t even part of the regular NBA season. Still, it is the duty of both the league and the players to produce a watchable product.

The only solution is to provide incentives, beyond love of the game of course, that entice players to want to give effort. 

There are two ways to approach this. The most obvious, and one that many people have suggested, is to give a huge payout to each player on the winning team. If the prize money per player was somewhere in the range of $500,000 to a million dollars, this would be a significant amount even for players earning $40-50 million a year. Earlier this year we witnessed the intensity in the first ever In-Season tournament: superstars like Lebron James putting their bodies on the line every game to try and win the $500,000 prize. 

I have an alternative solution, inspired by Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.

The MLB is split into the American League and National League, and the winning team from the two leagues meet in the World Series. Like the NBA, every year the best players from each league play against each other in the MLB All-Star game. Unlike the NBA, which mixes the players onto whichever team, the teams in the MLB All-Star game are exclusively National League or American League players.

From 2003-2016, the team that won the MLB All-Star game would earn home field advantage for the World Series for its league. So if the National League team won the All-Star game, that secured home field advantage for whatever National League team ended up making it to the World Series, even if their regular season record was worse than the American League team they were facing. The rule was abandoned because the league decided it was not the right way to do things,  but talks have already started to bring it back. 

Implementing the solution into the NBA All-Star game will be very simple. The league has already reverted back this season to the previous format of Eastern Conference versus Western Conference in the All-Star game. That lays the groundwork for the NBA to easily transition to the home-field advantage contest. 

High stakes not only create intense competition, but also increase viewership. The 2023 and 2024 All-Star games were the least watched since that statistic was first tracked in 1990. Why? Because the games lacked the competitiveness needed to attract viewers. Viewership will only continue to drop if no change is made.

 Critics might point out that this home field prize takes away from a team deciding their playoff placement through regular season play – I disagree. Each NBA team plays 82 games in the season, only 30 of which are against teams from the other conference. They play almost double that number of games against teams in their own conference. 

It is difficult to compare teams that play in different conferences because they have very different strengths of schedules. This solution would not be taking away from a deserving team, but instead would add new life into the dying tradition of the All-Star game.

The All-Star game needs a refresh, and there is no better way to do that than by making it really count. The home team in game sevens of the NBA finals have won a whopping 78% of the time, showing the importance of having home court advantage. By upping the stakes the NBA will raise both the competition and interest from fans, and will allow the All-Star game to reach its full potential and original purpose: to display the best talent the NBA has to offer. 

 

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About the Contributor
Emil Bothe
Emil Bothe, Staff Writer
Hi I'm Emil and I'm a part of the Viking 2023-2024 staff. I play for the Paly soccer team and do Model UN after school. I enjoy watching sports, and my favorite football team is the Patriots. During the winter I love to ski, and I used to be on the ski team. I have one younger sister, and she will be coming to Paly next year.

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