x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

All-Star weekend in need of revamp

Although the annual NBA All-Star weekend may host some of the best parties in the United States, the basketball has become boring and irrelevant.

Although the annual NBA All-Star weekend may host some of the best parties in the United States, the basketball has become boring and irrelevant. Indeed, most people I know who attend, do so for the nightlife rather than the sport. For this to change, the thinking behind the All-Star game must change. It is time to rein in the fan-voting component. What on earth is Allen Iverson doing in the All-Star Game? He was once a brilliant player. Now Iverson does not even deserve to be a reserve.

The ridiculous voting system is denying someone like Charlotte's Stephen Jackson or Iverson's Philadelphia teammate Andre Iguodala from a spot on the team. The league should also look at ways to make the game more intense. Major League Baseball have instituted a rule whereby the winning side in their All-Star Game wins home field advantage for their league in the World Series. This move alone would make the NBA game a great deal more interesting.

Furthermore, it would no doubt inspire incredible performances from any number of All-Stars wanting to secure home court advantage. All too often, players do not try during the All-Star game, if not from the opening whistle then in the third quarter when they have already made some highlight-worthy plays. This year, it is being rumoured that Kobe Bryant will not participate because of a sore ankle.

If the game meant home court advantage in the finals, you could be certain that Kobe would heal quickly and be out on the floor come Sunday. Next, the rookies versus sophomores game should be cancelled as it serves no purpose. Sadly, the slam dunk contest is now a waste of time because the star players do not participate, except Dwight Howard. While the C-list players who take part often come up with great dunks, the very presence of these benchwarmers goes against the definition of the term "All-Star weekend".

If the league continues with the dunk contest, the idea of bringing in the best dunker not in the NBA might be just the thing to make the event more interesting. The league could run a talent search around the world, either online or in person. Perhaps participants could upload their dunks on YouTube to be voted upon and then selected for some televised elimination round to determine who would face off against the NBA's best.

Rest assured, there are several people who can dunk as well if not better than NBA stars. By way of example, the best dunker I have ever seen is James White. He plays professional basketball in St Petersburg, Russia. The fact of the matter is that being able to dunk well is not a great indication of one's ability to play basketball: plenty of hopeless basketball players can dunk with the best of them. Opening the contest to all comers could really enliven things. The same could be said of the three-point shooting competition.

While always somewhat entertaining, this event could do with a few adjustments. Perhaps bring in a woman from the WNBA to shoot with the league's best. The recent addition of the H-O-R-S-E event at the All-Star weekend (after many years on the shelf) is a classic example of how a league can change what it offers. Successful businesses continue to evolve and so should the business of the All-Star Game.

The event already has an incredible following. It would be a shame to lose the goodwill that fans have invested by adhering to ideas and trends long past their sell-by date. sports@thenational.ae