For the third consecutive year, the league tweaked the format of the NBA All-Star Game. The first dramatic change came in 2018, with erasing the traditional East vs. West format to a ‘pickup basketball’ approach with captains choosing sides. In 2019, the captain’s draft was televised, and both teams played with an enthusiasm that we hadn’t seen for a long time. But this year, the NBA flipped the script.
Chris Paul, head of the Players Association, pitched the change to commissioner Adam Silver to adopt the Elam Ending style for this year’s game. A rule change in which the teams play to a final number, rather than against a wearisome game clock. The league agreed and took it to the next level, awarding charity money to the team that won each quarter before tallying up the cumulative scores in the final frame. And with a fitting tribute to Kobe Bryant, they added an extra 24 points to determine the winner. The result, a captivating game that received positive reactions from both players and fans.
To me, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen for the entire match. To have the best talent in the NBA, going at it for an untimed 4th quarter, and with no commercial breaks, it was precisely the change this exhibition-game needed. The players wanted to win so badly that they were drawing charges, yelling at refs, and even a coach’s challenge came late in the game. One extra little thing I liked about it was the Chicago Scholars students from each charity who lined the baseline, cheering on their respective teams. It added the feeling of a televised college basketball match with kids losing their minds in the stands. You could even hear them screaming from the TV.
The continued improvement of this match-up is excellent. The All-Star game should be flexible and have the ability to test new things each year. The only complaint or fix that I kept reading over and over again was the free-throw ending. I don’t think it matters. It might have happened this year, but you can also win a Finals game at the free-throw line, it’s part of the game.
Side Note: It’s officially the midseason break, so there are no games till Thursday this week. The next lazy issue will send out Monday, 24th of February.
So, catch you Monday.