While the NBA All-Star game is one of the most fun basketball games to watch during the year, the contests and festivities that go around it are also incredibly entertaining. Holding the all-star game for last, the celebration begins Friday with the celebrity game. It then continues Saturday with the All-Star Saturday night, where NBA players show off their skills.
This season, the NBA made many changes to the contests. The most obvious was making Saturday’s event a team competition, dividing the East and the West. The winning side won money for charity as the NBA tried to make its philanthropy the forefront of the competition.
As a result, many of the events were changed to accommodate the team competition. Here are some do’s and don’ts that the NBA should consider for next year’s competition.
DO get new celebrities next year. We’re seeing a lot of the same celebrities that we’ve seen the last few years. Yes, we know Arne Duncan knows how to play basketball and plays with the President. Now, he’s finally won MVP. And speaking of MVPs, Kevin Hart is hilarious. He can stay. But overall, give us some new hilarious faces.
DO show more clips with the players mic’d up. The fun part of the celebrity game is that most of them aren’t great basketball players, so they often trash talk and make fun of each other. The few clips we get to see are very entertaining, so give the audience more.
DON’T use WNBA players. While the NBA’s support of the WNBA is great, they can participate in the All-Star game in a different way. During the celebrity game, the WNBA players play half-ass to not show off, although occasionally show they are real players, just to make sure everyone knows they do play for a living. Playing here isn’t exactly helping the image of women’s basketball players.
Shooting Stars Challenge
DO continue to mix the teams. I liked that all the players didn’t come from the same city. For example, you had Team Curry, with Dell Curry, Steph Curry and Becky Hammon. The winning team had no relation whatsoever with Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash. Some relation would be nice, but it’s hard to argue with the back-to-back champs.
DON’T make the competition just four shots. Up until this year, the court included six spots (including the half-court shot). That put more pressure to see real basketball shooting skills. The half-court shot is fun, but the competition needs to come down to more than just pure luck.
DO use the relay. I liked that it became more of a team aspect where guys had to push harder and pick each other up. Sometimes that competition can be too lackadaisical. However, I might recommend there needs to be come type of relation between the duos.
DON’T make the course easy. This year, two of the passing stations were taken out. The bounce pass station in particular would always catch a few players and be a game changer. A true point guard has to show all the skills: shooting, passing and dribbling. This year, the passing element was nearly non-existent.
Three Point Contest
DO keep the addition of a player getting to choose what rack becomes all money balls. This element can alter the competition extremely quickly and adds strategy to the affair. Plus, depending on the player, they like it in a different spot, which makes the competition even more exciting.
DON’T make the competition too short. I know this is getting repetitive, but most of the competitions were shortened, which greatly decreases the entertainment value. This is one of the competitions where I think the team aspect didn’t’ work, because it meant you had to shorten the group to a one-on-one battle on each side. Maybe three rounds would be better than two here.
The Slam Dunk Contest
DO limit the players to a number of dunks instead of giving them a time limit. Early in the years of the dunk contest, you got an attempt. In the last few years, you’ve gotten two minutes to complete the dunk. I recommend decreasing the three attempts this year to two because after a player misses the first time, the dunk loses its excitement value. That should be taken in account in the scoring.
DO get big name players. For the first time in several years, there were recognized players in the dunk contest! It was great seeing Paul George, John Wall and Damien Lillard put in some effort and show what the best players are capable of. It makes the competition much more fun and gives fans players to root for because they actually know who they are. Now when can LeBron get his act together to compete?
DON’T use the warm-up freestyle again. It was weird to watch. And with so many dunks going, it was hard to evaluate them all and give a side a winner. Maybe one side only had one cool dunk and the other had six okay ones. And are we giving more points for group choreographed dunks over individual dunks? Get straight to the chase and exciting part: the individual dunks.
DON’T simply score east versus west. If you’re going to pit the two conferences against each other, do totals. Not having a score of out of 10 for each dunk was annoying and underscores the dunks. The audience wants to see that perfect 10! I recommend letting all dunkers go, score them individually and then add them up. The highest finishers go to the finals.
DON’T make the competition too easy. Each player only had one individual dunk. There used to be three! And the further they got in the competition, the more players pulled out all the stops in the past. Really, the dunks never seem as incredible as they used to be because, let’s be honest, pretty much everything has been done. But there is still room to creatively re-design past dunks, adding a twist to favorites. The dunkers this year didn’t even get to be created because they got one dunk. A rushed program doesn’t lead to creativity. Cut the analysis and let the players show off.