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The All-Star Game revolution will not be televised.
The NBA rolled out a new format for its All-Star Game this season in hopes of improving the level of competition from last year’s free-for-all, so now the highest vote-getter from each conference — currently LeBron James and Stephen Curry — will serve as captains picking from the remaining 22 players. This had fans pumped at the thought of watching LeBron, say, pass on picking Kyrie Irving.
“Should there be a public selection?” asked Silver, via NBC Sports. “Now, I get it. Yes, it would be more fun if we had that kind of draft. On the other hand, I recognize that in picking a team to perform in the here and now, it’s a little different than drafting, where you’re selecting players for the long-term. Because, in picking a team, you want guys that are going to complement each other. And I think there was a sense from the players that it put them in an impossible position, where they’re picking one player over another — in part, not because they necessarily think that player is better than another player, maybe because they have a personal relationship with the player, or they think that player would be a better complement to the players, and that, invariably, if they just did it as a pure draft, guys would say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe such and such was selected before that player.’
“So, I would only say, it’s a big change from where we were, and I think we’ll see how this works, and it will develop over time. And I’m sure you all in the media will spend your time getting from our captains exactly who was picked over what other player. So, it makes it just that much more interesting.”
Except, part of what made it that much more interesting was being able to see the draft and trying to decipher during the game whether it had any bearing on the actual game. Just getting a list of two teams after the fact doesn’t really add much more intrigue beyond the previous East-West format.
From the sound of it, the decision not to televise the selection process was an effort to assuage player concerns, because there’s little doubt broadcasting the draft would draw a sizable viewership.
Publicly, at least, it seemed as though players were split on whether to air the game or not. Twelve-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony was perhaps most vocal among those who wanted it kept a secret.
“I don’t think you should televise that,” he told reporters last month. “I think that’s something you should keep in-house. I don’t think everybody in the outside world need to kind of be in the inside of that. The flip side of that, you’ll have a lot of players that’s kind of mad at whoever the captains are. You’ll have guys are going to be mad. Guys are going to be upset. Friendships come into play.”
Melo’s friend — and potential All-Star captain — LeBron disagreed:
“We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop your paycheck from coming.”
And Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, a four-time All-Star, concurred:
“I think it should be televised. If you made the All-Star Game, it should be televised who is going to be on what team. I don’t think you should call them and then wait until everybody sees who will be an All-Star. They should let it be known. We’re grown men, like [LeBron] said. If they ain’t pick you, they ain’t pick you.”
At the very least, let’s hope Silver is right and the draft order gets leaked to the media.
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