NBA Contemplating Reviving East vs. West All-Star Format

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The NBA All-Star Game is anti-climatic. The Rising Stars game is what it is, the 3-Point Shooting Contest is the highlight of the weekend — unless it’s one of those years when the Dunk Contest steals the show — and the weekend is always an excellent showcase for the host city and fun for fans with all the side events, pop-up stores and parties.

The All-Star Game itself is usually a dud. The NBA is looking for solutions to that, and that has a return to the East vs. West format under consideration, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on ESPN’s First Take Wednesday.

“We’re looking at some potential changes in format in Indianapolis this year. Maybe a return to something more traditional in terms of how the teams are presented. We went to sort of this captain and draft notion, but clearly historically it was East vs. West. So that’s maybe something we are looking at.”

The format isn’t the issue.

What the players prioritize out of All-Star weekend — outside of some brand promotion and finding the best party — is avoiding injury. The lack of defense in the All-Star Game isn’t about a lack of competitiveness or pride by the players, it’s them prioritizing staying healthy for the second half of the season. It’s the same reason the NFL now has the Pro Bowl Games, except the NBA All-Star Game takes place about two-thirds of the way through the season — key games and the playoffs are still ahead.

The league can talk to players, tweak the format and do whatever else it wants, players will prioritize their health and the rest of the season. I’m not sure there’s a reasonable path for the league to put enough stakes on the game to get players to care that much.

A return to the nostalgia of East vs. West for the February game in Indianapolis might be fun, though.

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