Due to the current situation with the pandemic, NBA All-Star Weekend will take place on Sunday to avoid multiple days where people gather in one place. The thing is, if that’s a concern, the real question should be; why are we playing an exhibition game in the first place? With that in mind, let’s dive deeper into this subject to see if we can figure out why this event is necessary.
Why Is This Game Being Played?
The NBA All-Star Weekend is a star-studded event both on and off the court. It’s a weekend filled with different contests that include a celebrity game, various skill contests like three-point shooting and dunking culminated by the actual game which features the league’s best players. The obvious answer to the question “why is this game being played” is money. This event not only generates huge revenue for the league and the host city, but it’s also a fantastic marketing opportunity.
There are nightly parties that are usually sponsored by some of the biggest brands in the world. That of course attracts not only some of the most famous celebrities in the world, but it also attracts fans from all over the country. With that, a huge influx of cash pours into the host city for the weekend while the networks get a nice spike in ratings so, in essence, everyone wins.
These Are Not Normal Circumstance
The reason I ask the question as to why are we having an All-Star game in the first place should be obvious to anyone living on this planet at the moment. No country has been hit harder by Covid than the United States so to hold an unnecessary gathering during this time comes off as a bit tone-deaf. After all, this is just an exhibition game which is another way of saying it really doesn’t mean anything.
Commissioner Adam Silver has stated that fans should consider the All-Star Weekend in Atlanta a “television only event” to which I would reply “stop the nonsense sir”. First of all, without turning this piece into a political debate, let’s start with the fact that the event is being held in Atlanta. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on there, let me just say that the city of Atlanta has not stopped partying during the current pandemic.
In fact, if you know anything about Atlanta, it’s one of the great party cities in America. I would know, I go to Atlanta on a regular basis to have a good time. You can legitimately go to Atlanta on a Monday night which I did for my birthday a few years ago. From rooftop bars with spectacular views of downtown to upscale bars in Midtown, it doesn’t matter what night you go out, I promise you will find a party happening. So telling people in Atlanta to not party when the All-Star Weekend is in town would be like telling people in Los Angeles that you’re having a beach party but they should just watch it on TV. If a pandemic hasn’t stopped the party, I doubt a message from Adam Silver to stay home is going to do the trick. There will be parties all over the city and none of them will end before the sun rises because that’s how they do it in Atlanta.
Game Will at Least Be Entertaining
Even though I’m saying this game really doesn’t need to be played, since they are playing it, at least it will be good. As far as All-Star games go, I’ve always thought they were a bit silly since I was a kid. After all, I love sports because of the competition element. If they aren’t competing which is usually the case in every All-Star game in all the major North American sports, what am I watching for? Not everyone feels this way of course so I’m strictly speaking from a personal perspective.
Well the NBA has fixed that problem to the point that even a hater later me has to recognize that the NBA All Star game is worth watching. They did so by implementing the “Elam Ending” which made last year’s game a must watch. They were playing real lockdown defence in the 4th quarter which was literally shocking to me. If you aren’t familiar with the Elam Ending, I’ll do my best to explain in as few words as possible.
Both teams play three 12 minute quarters just like any other NBA game. The difference is, the 4th quarter is played with no time. The reason for that is there is a target score, meaning one team has to score a certain amount to win, regardless of how much time it takes to get there. That target score is determined by adding 24 points (that number was chosen as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant) to the team that has the lead. That number becomes the target score. For example, if the score at the end of three quarters is 100-98, the target score would be 124. The first team to score that many points, wins.
All Events Packed into One Day
I must admit that I wasn’t sure about it and if you didn’t see last year’s game (I suggest you check out the highlights on YouTube) I understand your skepticism. The only thing I can say is it works due to the fact that the players are no longer hampered by time. They know how many points are needed to win and as a result, their defensive effort goes up several notches, which means we are then watching a real basketball game. It’s almost like watching your created teams on Playstation or Xbox come to life. It certainly brought me back and I will not be missing this year’s game and neither should you.
The other change that makes this particular All-Star game worth watching is that all of the events are taking place in one day. There will be no All-Star Saturday night which is when you typically would have the rising stars’ challenge, celebrity game, skills competitions, and of course the three-point shootout and the dunk contest. Only the dunk contest and the three-point shootout will be happening which I am absolutely ok with.
The fact that they will hold the three-point shootout pregame and then the dunk contest at halftime is actually really cool. In my opinion, this is how they should do it every year although I obviously know that won’t happen under normal circumstances. There’s too much money to be made by having it over the course of three days. Just like there’s money to be made by having it at all, even during a pandemic where one of your teams (the Toronto Raptors) isn’t even allowed to play games in its own city. Money talks and the NBA is no exception, even at the expense of its players’ safety as well as the residents of Atlanta.