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NBA All Star Game Has Become Unwatchable

The NBA needs to do something about the All-Star Game, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Nobody is sitting down to watch the game on a Sunday night, and no one cares about All-Star weekend anymore; the players don't want to be there, and it means nothing to them. For many players not playing in the game, it is a week off to relax and recuperate in between games in the agonizingly long 6 month season that provides a lot of wear and tear on the body. The players who do participate in the festivities want something similar.  Those 6 months do not even include the playoffs which can take up to an additional two months for teams that make a deep run.

For me, it's an All-Star Game, so I don't think I will ever look at it like being super competitive. It's always fun. I don't know what they can do to make it more competitive. It's a break. I don't think nobody wants to come here and compete. -- Anthony Edwards

Edward’s comments depict the dire state of All-Star weekend and that there is little that can really be done to fix it to give fans and players more enjoyment out of it.

The first issue is that the NBA has become a pay to play league. At least for special events like the In-Season tournament which made its debut this year and the All-Star Game, players want to be paid. The All-Star game should look to take from the In-Season Tournament which got more views than many regular season games in its debut this year. The Los Angeles Lakers, who won the tournament this year, appeared to be especially eager to compete because of the $500,000 prize pool that each player would receive if they won the trophy. This money-driven motivation appears obsessive in players, as the ten starters in the All-Star Game earn a combined $378.6 million, leaving one to wonder why they need more money to simply entertain fans and put smiles on children's faces who are looking for the experience of a lifetime but are not getting it. The players deservedly have been slammed in the press and on social media because the fans are what make the season and the salaries players make possible in the first place. While players certainly may want a week off, this is their job and they are professional athletes who are in the best shape and put themselves in position to make it through the season even if that means playing an extra 30 minutes to make All-Star weekend worth watching.

The most frustrating part about the whole ordeal is that the All-Star Game is not going anywhere. Fans and critics alike will be in the same position next year moaning about the same things that players don’t care or try during the game. So what can be done to fix the game? This is where it gets muddled and interesting. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is aware of the problem, and he did not appear to be too thrilled while presenting the trophy to the winning team following the game on Sunday night. Perhaps this was in light to his recent comments when he talked to reporters Saturday.

“We're not necessarily looking for players to go out there as if it's the Finals necessarily, but we need players to play defense, we need them to care about this game. I think we're going to see a good game tomorrow night.” -- Adam Silver

It in fact, was not a good game. 

The three-point contest should certainly take more of a prominent role, it is perhaps the most entertaining event and was even better this year neutralizing the game as the greatest shooter on the men's side Stephen Curry went up against Sabrina Ionescu on the women’s side. With the 3-point shot being so critical in the game of basketball in today’s day and age, it remains a popular event and should be one of the things that stick around if necessary changes are made. Quick fixes can be made in one of the things that is not working, the dunk contest. Aside from Jaylen Brown, it has been nearly 10 years since an actual all star or one of the high fliers in the game has graced their presence on the contest. The NBA should step in and make it mandatory for some of these players to participate, even if it means offering a $100,000 reward to entice them to become involved. The actual game itself is trickier, in the last few years it has gone between East vs West and captains picking their teams neither of which has done much to gain viewers. Once again, a prize pool or some sort of one-on-one event may make the game more entertaining, however, the All-Star Game may never be the same as players do not want to get hurt in a silly game right before the key stretch of the season leading up to the playoffs. While Silver and Co will have changes made before this time next season, it remains to be seen whether it will change anything in the attitude of the players or fans who are tired of watching the same boring thing year after year.

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