Mims: How to Fix the NBA All-Star Game

The 211-186 final score shows it's more an exhibition than a game and that needs to change if the fans are to stay interested and the players engaged.
Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu after their 3-point battle. And it was a battle.
Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu after their 3-point battle. And it was a battle.@NBA on X

It is rare that the preliminaries  outshine the main event. Imagine the salad and the bread being better than your main course meal at the restaurant you have been planning to visit all week. This is what we witnessed this past Sunday. The Celebrity Game was more competitive than the 73rd NBA All-Star Game.

The 3-point Contest between Sabrina Ionescu and Stephen Curry lived up to the hype. Most of the audience on Saturday Night turned in to watch Curry and Ionescu and those numbers led to the highest NBA Saturday Night since 2020. The 3-point contest was extremely competitive and won by the reigning 3-point Champion Damian Lillard. The Dunk Contest needs more stars to capture the attention of the fans.

The NBA is by far the most innovative sports league. They were the first professional league to openly acknowledge sports betting would not detract from their brand. The NBA made licensing agreements to have logos & patches on players jerseys. The NBA game is embraced globally and has players from all over the world. So how do they remedy a 211-186 game that was the highest scoring NBA All-Star Game in history? While the viewership was up 20% over last year’s game, it was still the 2nd lowest on record.

If I had the attention of Commissioner Adam Silver, I would make some subtle changes that would make the game competitive and increase fan interest.

Next year, add a monetary incentive to the winning team. See the interest the Commissioner Cup attracted, and the players bought in. The winning team gets a winner-take-all of what the NBA allocates while the losers get a donation to their individual foundations or charity.

Tweak the scoring in the game to resemble the Celebrity Game. No consecutive lay ups or dunks by either team or the point is nullified. That would require the team to pass the ball back out if they scored a lay up or dunk on the previous possession. This will make the players stay in the game mentally.

Randomly, extend the 3-point line during the game. The LED court would extend after  consecutive makes with the player hitting from the furthest distance getting a prize regardless of the team he is on.

Add incentives to the defensive side of the ball. The player with the most blocks or steals combined gets a 25% share equivalent to a winning team member, 12% to the person that finishes second and 6% to the player that finishes third.

Add a Knockout round to All-Star Saturday Night. Participation is randomly selected with the starters from each team mixed in with 2 reserves. If a player from the host city is on the roster, he is automatically in the Knockout Game. Winner takes all.

Have a contest between Lillard and Caitlin Clark vs Curry and Ionescu. Two rounds with the highest score in a winner take all for charity.

With these changes, scoring will decrease, and the festivities will be heightened. The cross-sell of the WNBA will add to the appeal of the Weekend! The 74th NBA All-Star Game will be competitive!

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