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NBA Returning to East/West All-Star Game Format

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.

Comments (10)

    The All-Star Game is also scrapping the “Elam Ending” (playing to a final target score). I think I’m in the minority, but I hate the Elam Ending for pro hoops. Just seems too gimmicky, and too convoluted.

    I like this. I guess the only downside is that the best players won’t necessarily be included if one conference has better players than the other.

    The players list was still split by conference even if the team makeup wasn’t. So this decision or the previous one to abandon it didn’t change the makeup of the players who were selected.

    When I turned on the Mavs-Spurs game, I spent about ten seconds wondering why my TV had malfunctioned into a B & W screen…..
    Spurs used to have such flair in their court designs……but not much they can do with those unis….

    Adding into the theme “Back to Basketball” (were they gone?) they could go for players to wear their primary home/away jersey (sorry, Association/Icon jerseys).

    About the NBA, has anybody heard anything about this (link)? Considering games start on November 3rd I’m surprised that the “different jerseys”, if they are actually a thing, haven’t been put on sale yet.
    IMO, if they want to do something different for the In-Season Tournament, they replace the midcourt logo on the courts with the tourney logo and keep everything else the same.

    Now if we could just get the Sonics back with that beautiful Green and Gold….

    Always happy to see Silver remorsefully refocussing on the actual game instead of turning it into one big selfie party. But let us not forget he is just a spokesperson for the owners: they want to make more money by digressing from the game. But the fans voted with their wallets by not buying the merch or not watching the game (therefore keeping their wallets closed for products endorsed by advertisers) and the ownwers and media companies must have screamed: present a decent basketball game in Indy, Adam!

    The All-Star Game is unwatchable. East-West. U.S.-Rest of the World. Choose Up Sides. None of it makes a difference because the players don’t give a damn about playing hard. Defense is totally nonexistent. A dunk line is only fun for about a minute. That still leaves 47.

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