After a year of secrecy, the NBA All-Star Game Draft appears to be heading to prime time. The 2018 edition of the game brought a huge swath of changes to the annual exhibition showcase, including the elimination of conferences and introduction of team captains and a pick’em format that brought with it an undercurrent of tension.
Who would get picked first? Who would get picked last? That kind of speculation and potential for embarrassment made some players ask that the actual draft not be shown on television, something that was painted by many as a mistake at worst and, at best, a missed opportunity.
Both of the game’s captains, LeBron James and Stephen Curry, said after the selection process that it would be a fun thing to do on TV, and it seems that NBA commissioner Adam Silver agrees. He spoke with ESPN on Sunday and confirmed that the draft is likely to be held live on air next year.
“When we sat with the union and we came up with this format we all agreed ‘let’s not turn something that’s 100 percent positive into a potential negative to any player,’” Silver said. “But we were overly conservative because when we came out of there the players were like ‘We can take it. We’re All-Stars. Let’s have a draft.’ So it sounds like we’re going to have a televised draft next year, but I have to sit down with LeBron and all the guys in the union and figure it out. But again, I can’t tell you how pleased I am with this format.”
For many, it’s a decision that seems like a no-brainer, but there were a lot of tensions and complications at play. Initial reaction to the draft was hesitance by many in the league, and the Players’ Association itself was initially against televising it. But now that we know who the last picks of the draft were, and how little anyone actually cared about it, the decision to give fans what they want seems obvious.
The game itself was better under the new format, giving fans and players what they wanted and giving the game a bit more of a competitive edge. Now fans will really get what they want next year.