Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

A Meaningless and Boring Spectacle: NBA All-Stars

As a life-long sports fan and, recently, a really big NBA fan, I had been looking forward to the last two NBA All-Star Weekends. It sounds like the perfect fan viewing experience; all the best NBA players (who are partially chosen by fan voting) playing in a talent overloaded five-v-five game. It should be full of hard battles, highlights and new rivalries beginning between the best players in the sport. Yet somehow this game has turned into the most boring game of a season of 1230 (!!) games.

This last All-Star game ended with a victory for the Western Conference with the final score being 211-186, a total of 397 points. We were one three-pointer away from reaching the 400 point mark for the first time in NBA history and the game itself blew any other high scoring game out of the water. The highest scoring regulation NBA game (no over-time) was 320 points, which is an insane amount of points given the average point total for a team this season is 115.5 (the 6th highest average in NBA history), and that game occurred in 1990.

One might think that, in this era of the NBA, with high-scoring games, fans would just love to see the stars score at will. I think that is a gross misunderstanding of what makes basketball fun to watch. 

This huge number of points is not something to be overlooked – it follows the trend of higher and higher scoring games in the All-Star games, reaching insanely high levels in the last few years. In fact, if we look at the games that occurred in seasons with higher point averages then our current one, you’ll find something very interesting. 150-130, 153-131, 135-120, 142-135, and 144-124; none of these games come even REMOTELY close to the points scored in the last few seasons.

The issue is that we’re not just seeing higher scoring than normal, but also that defense has practically dropped off the planet in these games. Nobody bothers to create a challenge for these all-stars; they are just running around chucking stupid shots while no one tries to stop them. Is there anything even remotely interesting in watching professional athletes if they aren’t even trying? I would rather watch an average high school game where the players are actively trying to win the game by any means possible than see LeBron James making an open lay-up because his opponents don’t care to play the game.

This is the same problem with the Dunk Contest and three-point contest in recent years as well, and I’m not even going to mention the Skills Challenge because it has been a joke since it started (Scottie Barnes tried a behind-the-back shot from half court). There has been a growing culture inside the NBA that the All-Star game isn’t competitive, and the little events surrounding it are a joke. As a result, since the players don’t care for the weekend, fans have slowly been turning away from the event in its entirety.

With All-Star selections being something that is used to evaluate the strength of a player’s career, it should be played as if it is an honor rather than a nuisance. A lot of fans have started talking about putting an incentive, such as home court advantage in the finals, for the conference that wins the game, but that is absurd given the way the game is played. Players shouldn’t need an incentive to want to win a game; it’s a part of their job. Trying to force people to be competitive in a game that their life centers around and that pays them millions of dollars a year. The players on the winning team each make $100,000 as well, which seems like fine compensation, even for people who are making millions of dollars each year on their contracts.

The NBA All-Star game is broken. Somehow, the very thing that is supposed to bring the most exciting basketball to our screens always feels like it disappoints. It is jarring seeing All Star selections count so much for NBA players’ legacies contrasted with the way the game is treated by the stars who are a part of it. It is unfair to the fans that the one game that is filled with stars is always just so devoid of light. Until the NBA changes something about the format, I won’t be watching, because there is simply no point.

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