Change is coming to the defense-optional All-Star Game, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to hear ideas.
Silver and players’ union President Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers have spoken about how to make the game more competitive. No decisions have been made, but the Western Conference’s 192-182 win over the Eastern Conference last month in New Orleans underlined such a need.
Some All-Stars said that night they would like to see a more authentic game, and the league apparently agrees.
“We will change it by next year,” Silver said. “It shouldn’t be playoff intensity, but the guys should be playing.”
Next year’s game is in Los Angeles.
Silver spoke Friday at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, hosted by MIT. He even shared an email address – Adam(at)NBA.com – in case anyone wants to share suggestions with him.
“You hear people talking about 4-point shots, something that’s not about to happen in the NBA, but maybe in an All-Star Game,” Silver said. “Maybe there’s a few spots on the floor where it’s a 4-point shot. Maybe there’s a halfcourt shot in the last minute that’s 10 points. I don’t know. Those are crazy ideas.”
New Orleans’ Anthony Davis scored an All-Star record 52 points in this year’s game, 10 points more than the mark by Wilt Chamberlain that stood for 55 years. The West has flirted with 200 points in each of the last two seasons – 196 in 2016, 192 this year. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 12 dunks by himself, and LeBron James was taking (and once, made) shots from the midcourt area.
“We collectively want to try to make All-Star weekend better for the fans,” Paul told reporters in Milwaukee on Friday. “All the way around. Even in CBA talks and stuff like that, that was one of the things that the players, the owners and everybody was talking about. Trying to fix that, spice it up a little bit to keep it interesting.”
Bucks coach Jason Kidd, a perennial All-Star as a player, is confident the league will find the right fix.
“Adam’s a very smart man,” Kidd said, “and they’ll figure it out.”
For this year’s game, the voting process was changed – fan votes were no longer the sole basis for selecting starters, but instead part of a formula that also took player and media balloting into account. The player-voting element in particular was criticized by some NBA coaches like Golden State’s Steve Kerr, who said it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been.
“In an All-Star game like this, guys aren’t trying to get hurt,” Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving said after the All-Star Game. “We all enjoy the company of each other’s presence. But at the same token, us as competitors, when it starts getting close, you can feel it. For me, I would love to play in a competitive game.”