This past weekend the NBA celebrated its annual All- Star weekend. The weekend consisted of constant product placement, close-ups of celebrities, basketball stars in sunglasses and jeans, bad live music, and noticeable empty seats in the stands. Now sure, there were some good moments that will be fresh in our memory for the next few days. Terrence Ross had some scintillating dunks in the dunk contest and Chris Paul was well deserved in winning the All Star Game MVP.
But if you are really being honest with yourself, how relevant will this all be once they start playing real games again? Will anyone remember Terrence Ross in April? Was this All-Star weekend really worth all the trouble? The truth is, the All-Star games are losing zeal and are in dire need of an upgrade (or extinction).
All-Star weekends in theory are all about the fans and giving them the chance to see their favorite players in the game go head-to-head in a fun atmosphere. The first problem the NBA has is that its league is so top heavy with the best players all stacked on just a handful of teams. What does it say when the Starting 5 for the West has four players from the same city and the East has three players from the same team?
Heck, the real All-Star game was when the Heat played the Clippers.
Another problem is that these All-Star games are no longer selecting players that are truly deserving of the title of “All-Star” based on their performance. It is truly a popularity contest. The question is no longer “can you drain the three?” but is “how big is your brand?”. You can’t tell me Dwight Howard deserved to be in the All-Star game this year and I was appalled to see Jeff Saturday in the Pro Bowl this year considering he got benched by the Packers before the playoffs began.
If it is truly a popularity contest then we should rename it the All-Populars because clearly being in Kia commercials is a more important factor in getting voted into an All-Star game than being consistent in the paint (cough cough… Blake Griffin).
The one sport the All-Star format works in is baseball. The combination of longstanding tradition and the fact that it pits two different leagues against each other makes it truly a beautiful event (don’t tell me you have a serious attachment to the “West” team and that you despise the “East” team). Baseball is also the perfect sport for an All-Star event because the game itself is nine individuals playing individual positions not necessarily relying on each other every minute. You will never see a pitcher half ass a pitch and throw a meat-ball in an All- Star game. NO! He’s throwing his best stuff. No hitter in an all-star game is going up to bat wanting to get shown up by the pitcher. The game of baseball doesn’t allow for someone to half-ass their performance and this creates an intense competition. I can’t say the same for other sports in their respective All-Star games. On top of it all, the winner of the MLB All-Star game gets home field advantage in the World Series. This really allows for the game to take a serious tone and makes the game have lasting effects.
If All-Star games are “for the fans” than why are they the least intense games? The obvious reasoning is that these games don’t count and they are just glorified exhibition games. The real truth is that the whole idea of an All-Star game is a flawed concept. It is the idea that players, who are selected based on individual performance and are therefore praised for it, can play with other players on a “team” who received that same individual praise. Sports like football, basketball, and hockey can’t have “All-Star” teams that function efficiently with self-centered players focused on making a quick appearance and not getting hurt.
But you can’t blame the players for their own self-interest. Who wouldn’t have that mentality if they were millionaire athletes with still a whole half of the season left? Blame the business, blame the leagues. Shame on them for wrapping a piece of crap in tin foil and trying to sell it off to fans as priceless earrings. If it’s truly “for the fans” then make the game free of charge so at least you’re being true to what these All-Star events are.
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