The NBA All-Star Game has turned into a complete disgrace to basketball. While the annual Presidents’ Day Weekend event has always been a high-scoring affair, the lack of defense over the years has progressively turned this so-called ‘basketball game’ into more of a free-shoot round.
While it is great seeing all of the stars of the league in one arena, there comes a point where the game is hardly classifiable as basketball because the competitive nature of the sport is evaporated by the players’ lack of willingness to play defense. It’s great watching Russell Westbrook light up the scoreboard for forty-one points and witnessing sharp shooter Kyle Korver drain seven three-pointers, but if all of those points and highlight plays are uncontested-are they really that impressive? No, they are not. Anyone in the NBA can score when they are not being properly guarded, All-Star or not.
Every player in the NBA can make jump shots and dunk a basketball, especially those talented enough to play in the All Star Game. However, they should definitely play defense as well to show the world how talented they really are. The All-Star Game should be inspiring for younger children and teenagers that look up to these players as role models on and off the court. Years ago, the All-Star Game was much more meaningful to people; many athletes have stated that they used to look forward to the game because of how magical it was seeing the collection of players playing together in a somewhat competitive environment. Now, hardly anyone is as touched by the event in the same way. I have been a basketball fan my entire life, and when I played the sport at no point was I, or anyone I knew, inspired by the All-Star Game. Over the past five All-Star Games, the average total score between the East and West sides is 302.4 points- lending 151.2 points per team per game. However, the five All Star Games from 1985-1989 that featured the likes of Michael Jordan, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and other legends, yielded a scoring average of 278.2 points, which puts each team at about 139.1 per game. While a difference of 24.2 total points per game might not seem like a substantial difference over thirty years, it absolutely shows without coincidence how the game has lost defensive presence. No major offensive rule changes have even occurred since the implementation of the three point arc in 1979, so there is no real reasoning for the padded offensive stats in the All-Star Game.
I admit, it is great fun seeing cool dunks and a million three-point shots. But not only are there two other events for highlight reel dunks and three point shooting, the decline of the All-Star game gives great defensive players no opportunity to showcase their skills. While I do not see a sudden willingness of the players to “try” in the All-Star Game, it would undoubtedly make the game more interesting.