Another Flop: The NBA All-Star Game Is Still As Unwatchable As It’s Always Been

For some reason, leagues are infatuated with the idea of making fans interested in All-Star games. No matter what the sport is, there’s always some sort of gimmick created to up the appeal of the average fanatic. It’s like nobody understands All-Star game appearances are just used as a measuring stick when people get into huge Twitter arguments about which player is better. In the latest effort to make the NBA’s mid-season celebration meaningful and enticing to fans, the league fell flat on its face by botching the roster.

No matter what sport you’re referring to, the All-Star game celebrations are more for the honor than the entertainment. People don’t actually watch them for the sport itself. They’ll watch it because they can’t find the remote, the bar they’re currently binging at has it on, or they are in the general vicinity of a sports fan who is currently too young to realize how pointless the game is. The All-Star game is like Santa for sports fans — the age you stop caring about it varies from person to person, but the myth surrounding the contest is ruined for everyone eventually.

Yet still, leagues like the NBA constantly try to make All-Star weekend more watchable. Whether it’s changing the Dunk Contest over and over even though it’s a simple process, or scheduling halftime performers that don’t make any sense at all (I’m looking at you, Big & Rich) the league is always letting their creative juices try to fix a problem that broke a long, long time ago. This year, they’re tweaking the actual All-Star game roster setup itself. Say goodbye to the East vs. West matchups of old, and say hello to a captain-based picking system.

Instead of just beating down on the East, we can make it just like gym class where all the unathletic kids, or in this case the reserves of the Eastern Conference, get picked last.

It’s still the same skeleton as the previous voting system, just with a different way of placing the players on their proper teams. The two players who receive the most fan votes will be in charge of picking the teams. Then, there will be eight other players voted into the starters section of the All-Star game, with fans making up 50% voting, players 25% and the media rounding out the last 25%.

The head coach of each conference then picks seven reserves from each conference to fill out the roster.  The captains then pick their starting five based on the players available in the pre-set pool, as well as reserves regardless of their conference. Explaining the rules makes reading the manual for a microwave seem fun.

Instead of realizing people don’t like the All-Star game because you can see better defense in a small claims court, the NBA has decided it’s because of the lopsided rosters. Plus, this style can bring people back to the days where you knew the worst kid around was getting picked last. Anytime you can bring back rough childhood memories for some of your fans, you have to do it, right?

For those experiencing a horrible sense of deja vu washing over them after hearing the new All-Star roster shakeup, it’s because other leagues like the NFL and the NHL have tried this before. As you’ve tried to forget, it worked absolutely horribly.

You know that phrase that no one on the planet says because it doesn’t exist: “If it’s broken, fix it by trying something that is also already broken.”

The “third time’s a charm” mentality does not work here. This isn’t just a system that doesn’t work because of the sports they were tried in, it doesn’t work because it’s an elementary idea. That isn’t just a phrase, it’s a selection process that’s literally used in elementary schools. Instead of giving us a clash of the conferences no matter how lopsided the talent may currently be, it actually somehow makes a meaningless exhibition even more meaningless. It also doesn’t give us more rivalries, it can possibly take them away.

This All-Star setup might take away another Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant reunion on the court while they pretend not to hate each other for a few minutes. It stops LeBron and Kyrie Irving from joining forces once again. You think these “captains” are going to do a better job forming the perfect scenarios for us fans to actually focus on?

The NBA is the pettiest league in the world. Allowing players to choose their All-Star rosters is a prime-time event for pettiness, but that takes all the fun out of the game itself. The draft setup will be about a million times more entertaining than the actual competition that these players are participating in for zero reason.

Plus, who are these captains going to be in the first place? You think NBA Twitter and all the fan-voters out in the world are going to do this right? No way, no how.

You can sit back and chuckle as much as you want, but don’t you dare underestimate the NBA community. If they can come together about anything in the world, it can be J.R Smith leading his team as the captain in the All-Star game.

One problem that it does solve is the uneven play between these two sides. Even the most casual NBA fan can tell you that the Western Conference is a powerhouse stockpiled with ammo like a country waiting to go to war. The Eastern Conference, on the other hand, is pretty much just here for the participation trophies and the chance to tell people they’re an All-Star.

The Western Conference has had the East’s number in recent All-Star games, winning seven of the last 10, including three straight. You can call some of them “blowouts,” like the 196-173 beating that took place back in 2016, but most of them have been at least somewhat close. These men are all still good enough to get a nod to participate in this game while all simultaneously not caring a lick about the final score. Even with a somewhat-even desire to phone this game in on the defensive side of the ball, the talent level of the 2018 All-Star game is more lopsided than a seesaw with Chris Christie sitting on one end.

You can even take into consideration that Isaiah Thomas won’t likely make the All-Star game for the East either since he won’t play until January, making it five players from last year’s team that won’t be playing this year. Spreading the talent out for at least one game at least makes the NBA seem like there’s parity in the league, but this doesn’t solve the main problem with these rosters. If they’re going to put the kibosh on conference vs. conference matchups, then the NBA might as well take the East and West regulations out of the All-Star game altogether. The league should just send the best 24 players regardless of their conference.

Think about it this way. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawahi Leonard were all starters last year, and are likely locks again this year. Even the bench made up of Draymond Green, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook all look like they’ll make it again in the Western Conference.

That leaves one spot for players like Nikola Jokic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and conference newcomers Paul George, Paul Millsap, Carmelo Anthony, and Jimmy Butler to fight over. The fact that 10 of those players won’t be All-Stars next season is complete insanity.

If you want to fix competition in the All-Star game by erasing the divide created by conferences, then extend it to the roster decisions making. There will be a ton of snubs in the Western Conference while players in the East get invited just for walking in a straight line. It’s like in Talladega Nights when they decided to get the knife out of Ricky Bobby’s leg by just sticking another knife in it. You’re just prolonging the problem by addressing it.

Anytime a drastic change to the All-Star format is compared to a scene involving Will Ferrell and knives, it’s something that shouldn’t be taken seriously.