The NBA All-Star game has been an insufferable bore-fest for several years now, but the world’s most glorified pick-up game reached its spectacular nadir last February in New Orleans when the players involved didn’t even pretend to take it seriously. Granted, it’s an otherwise meaningless game, and guys don’t want to risk their health, but enough was enough.
Last week, commissioner Adam Silver announced some long-overdue alterations to the game’s format, namely that the two highest vote-getters from each conference will pick their own squads from among the pool of All-Stars still chosen traditionally by fans, coaches, and the media.
There was widespread public outcry after February’s debacle, but no one really expected anything to change, as the All-Star Game has always been East vs. West. However, with so many stars moving West and the balance of power in the league never being more lopsided, a discussion needed to be had and, as with most things, it took a few people with some major-league clout to get things done.
According to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report, it was the hyper-competitive Chris Paul who was disgusted with what he saw watching from home on television, prompting him to call up Silver. But he also got some reinforcement from the GOAT himself, Michael Jordan.
Once Paul got the ball rolling, the discussion was steered chiefly by Silver and Roberts, who had touched on the issue during bargaining sessions in the past but never got down to the details, league sources said. The third driver of change was none other than Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who flexed his muscle because, well, he’s Michael Jordan, but also because he’s the chairman of the league’s labor relations committee.
“Michael was heavily involved,” said one of the people familiar with the meetings.
There are all sorts of things to love about the new format. The pettiness and rivalries alone should make the team captains’ selection process endlessly intriguing all by itself. Then, there’s all the inevitable speculation that will ensue about guys teaming up with one another in real-life, not to mention that some poor player will have the dubious distinction of being picked last.
Credit to Paul and MJ for helping breathe some life into the league’s annual festivities.