With this year's All-Star game taking place in Los Angeles, the NBA is doing everything possible to draw parallels between the star power of their superstars and the box-office power of Hollywood. Monday, we brought you the news that the NBA will launch an apparel deal with Marvel to bring your favorite comic book and movie heroes to the NBA.
Tuesday, the NBA announced that it will make the All-Star game a little more like the Oscars. From the Turner Sports press release:
To build anticipation to the 2011 NBA All Star Game in Los Angeles, NBA TV will present the T-Mobile Magenta Carpet at NBA All-Star 2011. This two-hour live special on Sunday, Feb. 20, starting at 5 p.m (ET), will feature players and celebrities walking the magenta carpet and participating in interviews with Access Hollywood's Maria Menounos and NBA TV analyst Rick Fox. In addition, actor and TV personality Nick Cannon will conduct interviews with players and celebrities from the main stage. Matt Winer will host alongside analysts Brent Barry(notes), Chris Webber, Steve Smith and Dennis Scott. NBA.com will also feature an alternate camera angle of the event.
Wow, sounds fun! Sure, you'll get to see glamorous stars like Natalie Portman and Nicole Kidman walking the red carpet at the Oscars just seven days later, but can they compete with Jimmy Goldstein and Clipper Darrell? I think not!
The idea here is pretty obvious: The All-Star game is in a city with tons of celebrities and many famous fans go to the All-Star game, so why not exploit the match for all it's worth. The stunning Menuonos is a red carpet pro, and Fox is a great actor who's spent enough time around NBA arenas researching his roles to feel comfortable with both movie stars and athletes.
The trouble, though, is that an All-Star game red carpet is in no way an established event that will appeal to the most famous NBA fans around. Yes, Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington will almost certainly attend the game, but I'm pretty sure they can find a way in that bypasses the magenta carpet. So what does this event look like if Menuonos and Fox are stuck asking George Lopez and Frankie Muniz what they're wearing? Instead of looking like a star-studded event, the All-Star game could look quite small.
I'm not sure how much this actually matters in the long run; NBA TV doesn't get many viewers beyond diehard fans, so it's not as if random people will be watching this event as their first look at the NBA. But if the point here is to make the NBA look like a league of stars that's appreciated by other stars, then it could backfire. Even when there's a small audience, brand consistency matters.