(This is a guest article by Stephen Lombardo)
For what seems like an eternity, the NBA has lost some of its appeal to its fans when it comes to All-Star weekend. The game is the most entertaining part. However, they don’t actually play basketball until the final five minutes of the game. All-Star Saturday feels like it doesn’t even exist. HORSE, the newest event of the weekend, showed its crucial flaw this week when they turned it into a three-point shoot out until someone was declared the winner. The point guard time trials feel a bit lame, the shoot out is ok, but the slam dunk contest (the NBA’s marquis event) feels like less than a shell of its former self. How do you save this event, and bring back the excitement there was in the 80’s and 90’s?
Well first of all, we cannot bring back Jordan and Bird to resurrect this event as much as we may want to. Instead the NBA should introduce a new twist to the weekend. One idea would be to host a one on one tournament that features the All-Stars playing that weekend. Set it up by having 16 of the players compete in this event. Give the fans a chance to see the game’s greatest players decide it amongst themselves who the best player in the NBA really is. We watch all the best players play against each other during the regular season, but that’s with their teams playing with them. Instead of us having to imagine what it would be like to watch these great players face each other as if they were out in the schoolyard why not just make it happen? What do you feel is more attractive? Nate Robinson going for his 3rd or 4th slam dunk title, or LeBron James playing a game one on one versus Kobe Bryant? I think the answer is obvious.
Setting up this tournament would be pretty basic as well. You can have them play to 11, 15, or 21 as if they were playing at the schoolyard. Attracting the players would be easy also. Give them a cash incentive for playing in the tournament and let it go from there. These athletes would love to compete with one another in something like this. Making the clientele easy to attract. The NBA would easy blow away every other idea that the NFL, MLB, or NHL could have to make their event better.
Although the NBA could be in a state of crisis this time next year, we all know they will be back on their feet just like every other sport has in a time of CBA peril. This idea surprisingly has not gotten a lot of play. Instead they think they can come up with better ideas to save this lost weekend. So far none of them have worked. This one could not only save their All-Star weekend, but also perhaps change the way other leagues run their All-Star events.
Stephen Lombardo is a recent graduate of St. Johns’ University, with experience working for the Staten Island Yankees. Previous experiences also include working at CBS during the NCAA tournament in 2009 and writing for a fantasy baseball website. To learn more about Stephen connect with him on LinkedIn.