The National Basketball Association All-Star Weekend is an annual event that always seems to captivate even though nothing new ever really happens. The same players always make the rosters, the events that take place before the actual game never really excite me anymore and the NBA on TNT crew never ceases to amaze me with its ability to talk about absolutely nothing. I love Charles Barkley as much as the next guy, but you can only talk about how great LeBron James is in so many ways.
There needs to be some more change to the formula. Maybe stop trying to have it so organized, get rid of the fan voting, go with the flow––just something. NBA commissioner Adam Silver seems like he is a man who is very open to new ideas, and a few ideas is what All-Star Weekend needs.
One of the big things that gets me every year is that the same stars are always invited. Sometimes, this does make sense. As long as James is in the league, he will most likely be playing at a high enough level to deserve a spot in the All-Star game. But Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is a different story––he hasn’t even played at all this season. He’s been on the bench since mid-January and only played 35 games before shutting down due to injury. His numbers this year were lower than in the past—averaging 22.3 points per game and 5.6 assists. These are still good numbers, but it’s not what we’ve come to expect from one of the greatest to ever play.
Do you want to know the reason that Kobe was a member of the all-star team this year? Two words: fan vote. The fan vote is one of the worst things about the entire weekend. Anybody with a Twitter account was allowed to vote via hashtag this year as opposed to letting people who actually know about basketball decide who plays in the showcase. Because of the fan vote, we continuously get players in the All-Star game that cannot actually play––mainly due to injury.
If the NBA were to eliminate the fan vote, we would get a game that is the best it could possibly be. Right now, it is just a chance for the players to show off and to try to impress one another. If it were truly the best players in the league playing in the game––as voted on by the coaches as opposed to the fans––the quality of the game would increase exponentially. The coaches watch countless hours of game tape each week. Personally, I trust their opinion on basketball matters more than Joe Smith, the diehard Oklahoma City Thunder fan who is going to vote for forward Kevin Durant 20 times a day.
The All-Star Weekend is supposed to celebrate the play of the athletes who have put up numbers that stand out for the first half of the season. Players like Durant and Bryant both got in because of their play in the past, not due to their play this season. That type of thinking is something that needs to change.
We need to change the focus of All-Star Weekend from the past to the present and future. If we can do that, hopefully the next few All-Star games won’t have their ratings beat by a “Saturday Night Live” special