NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces the return of the classic East vs. West format for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game. pic.twitter.com/ingdASk5GJ
— NBA (@NBA) October 25, 2023
Last week, NBA commish Adam Silver hinted that the league might return to the East/West format for this season’s All-Star Game. Yesterday he made it official, saying that the old format will be revived when the league’s best players convene in Indiana on Feb. 18.
The East/West format, which had been used for decades, was abandoned for the 2018 game — the same season that Nike took over as the NBA’s uniform outfitter. Instead of having the All-Stars from each conference playing each other, the league had the top two fan vote-getters serve as captains, who then drafted teams from a pool of All-Star players.
Silver’s announcement, which was made at a press conference, was accompanied by some revealing comments, including the following:
“The theme this year is ‘Back to basketball.’ … A lot of it comes down to reinforcing with our players and our teams how important this is for the fans. … We don’t expect playoff intensity. But we expect a competitive game for our fans.
We heard it from our fans, I think the players recognize it, too, that last year’s All-Star Game was something no one was proud of, and I don’t think it was anyone’s fault in particular. I think, though, that we need to refocus on what this league is really about and that’s about the best basketball in the world.”
That’s pretty rich. Silver, as much as anyone, is responsible for transforming the NBA into more of a lifestyle brand than a sports league, and for encouraging fans to view the players more as celebrities than as athletes. Having created an atmosphere where the All-Star Game is little more than a gimmicky spectacle for showboating and fraternizing, now he wants to get “back to basketball” and have a “competitive” game? Good luck with getting that toothpaste back in the tube.
Anyway: Since the game is in Indiana, the uniforms will presumably be Pacers-themed — not the worst prospect, since the Pacers have generally had decent uni designs over the years. We’ll find out soon enough.