The 2018 NBA All Star game was unlike any All Star game we have seen in year. While both teams made it into the 140's which is way above regular season average, this year the game had the feel of a playoff game and not a glorified three point/slam dunk contest which is what the game has been the past few years. Last year the West beat the East by a score of 192-182 and had the format stayed the same this could have been the year that someone finally broke 200 points. Don't get me wrong, I think a 200 point game would be awesome and wildly entertaining to watch but the change that the NBA made this year's game even better.
Over the past few years other leagues have messed with the formats of their respective All-Star games. The MLB changed their rule of the winning All Star team getting home field advantage in the World series (which was one of the stupidest rules in all of sports) to now having that be determined by record which every other sport does. The NFL has had many formats over the past few years including having 2 Hall of Famers coach and pick teams and then switching back to the traditional NFC vs AFC match-up. The NHL switched to a playoff format this year which was actually pretty entertaining and could have potential in the future.
This year the NBA announced that teams would be chosen by player captains and while many people including myself thought this would crash and burn it actually ended up being one of the greatest All Star games I have ever seen. The NBA absolutely killed it on the first try, they set it up perfectly with still allowing the equal amount of players from each conference and making 5 of the starters from the East and 5 from the West. Never before have we seen teammates get to battle it out in an All-Star team but that happened last night when Kevin Durant faced off against Steph, Draymond and Klay Thompson and when Kyrie Irving faced off against his All Star big man Al Horford. While none of these teammates guarded each other for an extended period of time the final play came down to Kevin Durant along with Lebron James defending Steph Curry on a 3 point attempt that never even got shot.
Going into the game many people saw Team Lebron as the heavy Favorites but it was team Stephan who took an 11 point lead into the 2nd quarter after putting up 42 points despite a combined 5 points from Curry and Harden in that quarter. Going into the game people saw Lebrons team as the bigger and more athletic team that would dominate on the inside but Curry's team as one that could hit 50 three pointers as they want to. In an odd turn of events neither of those were true at the end of the game. Team Stephen shot just 26.2% from three which is percentage points higher than my career numbers and Team Lebron was out rebounded by 19 including a 24-10 offensive rebounding advantage for Team Steph.
There were a lot of reasons that made this game unique and special but I think the real reason that this game was so competitive is because of the pride that these guys had in their team. In the past I don't think guys saw the "Western Conference" or "Eastern Conference" on their jersey as something that they really cared about and to be honest the West has dominated for so long it is almost expected that they will win and the players care more about highlights than winning and for good reason. This year however players seemed to have more pride in their team and I think that is because they were picked by those captains and the captains believed in them no matter if they were the first pick or the last.
With the stars of the NBA being so close with each other even if you wouldn't consider them all friends they do know each other very well and have been together and competed with each other for a while now this game had the feel of one of those games you play in high school when you get ten of your friends and your entire reputation is hanging on if you win or lose. While these players weren't going to kill each other or themselves to win this game there was definitely a competitive edge that we haven't seen in an All-Star game before and that was especially the case in the 4th quarter when the teams were arguing over small calls and taking time outs to draw up plays.
While the NBA decided to switch to this new format it is really something that only the NBA could do. The NFL already tried it and didn't really work, the MLB wouldn't have much success either doing this and I'm not sure the NHL would have as much success as the NBA. The reason it worked so well for the NBA is because of the fact that all of these guys know each other so well and the core group of All Stars is there every year. Another reason the NBA All Star format is so good is because of the teammates that can end up on the same team such as putting Lebron James on the same team as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook and putting Steph Curry with James Harden and Giannis Antetokoumpo on the same team. Who knows, maybe next year we will see Lebron and Steph on the same team.
Overall I think the new format got a lot of good feedback from fans and while the opening ceremony if you wanna call it that and the national anthem were interesting to say the least, once the game started the fans really seemed to enjoy it. Let me know what you thought of this new format or if you think the NBA should go back to the traditional East vs West.