The NBA All-Star game has become completely unwatchable and a promotion of certain teams
Opinion by Tim Shirer
The NBA All-Star game has become a complete and total farce. It’s hard to describe what it has become without using phrases like “a mess,” “a complete joke,” “completely unwatchable,” “9 team lovefest”.
I know a lot of people don’t want to hear “The way it used to be” stories, if you are one of them you might want to stop reading now. But if you are open minded and would like to hear how things used to be and how they could be improved in the future then continue to read.
I’ll be the first person to admit that growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s the NBA was my third favorite sport of the big three major league sports. But I did watch the all-star game usually with my Dad and brother. Sure, there was less defense played in the game back then, than in the regular season, but at least it resembled basketball at the professional level. Up until the last 10 or 15 years the participants in the game wanted to win. At the end of the game the competitiveness came out in players. There is none of that anymore. The game is all about “Me” or “I.” Or it’s about cliques, who band together and control the ball and shoot and miss the most ridiculous shots. In the last ten seasons the All-Star game scoring has increased 79 points. The 2014 All-Star game in New Orleans ended 163-155 won by the Eastern Conference. Imagine that an NBA All-Star game with only 318 points. Going back to 2005, LeBron James’ first all-star game of his now 20 appearance, the score was 125-115 in favor of the East. People back then thought it was high scoring with little defense. The key was “Little” defense. Now the key word is “ZERO” defense. I know in all of the three pro sports fans like scoring. But at this point, why even watch? The two teams scored nearly every time down the court with either a driving layup, dunk or a long three point shot that wasn’t even close to being contested.
Now to the second part that truly makes an NBA All-Star game unwatchable to the point of annoying is the presentation of the game by TNT. Don’t get me wrong, the pre-game show is really good on TNT, I have been a big fan of it since TNT came on the air in 1989. But the pregame show for the game is where it ends with being a good broadcast and the “alt” broadcast would be more professional if a group of middle school students were the heads of the production. I had the “alt” broadcast on for about the first four minutes of the first quarter simply because Charles Barkley was on that broadcast (what an insult to him) and I am a fan of Barkley. It was just a plain disgusting broadcast. Taylor Rook and Draymond Green should not be aloud near a microphone during any sporting event. I’m not even sure that most of the time they knew there was a game going on. Barkley looked annoyed by the fact that Rook and Green were ignoring the play on the court.
But the lousy presentation of the game didn’t end with the “alt” broadcast on TruTV, it carried over to the regular broadcast on TNT. I will give the three broadcasters Brian Anderson who handled the play-by-play duties along with color analysts Candace Parker and Reggie Miller credit, they at least knew a game was going on and attempted to focus on it. But the usual NBA narratives showed up, focusing on five or six franchises, and forgetting that the other 24 or 25 exist and it didn’t even matter if a team was having a good season or not. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the second best record in the Eastern Conference behind only the Boston Celtics and the fourth best record in the NBA behind the Celtics, two games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder who are a half game better than Cleveland. When talking about possible winners of each conference the Cavs were never mentioned, never, not once. Even though the Cavs have been the hottest teams in the NBA the last two months (22-5) since December 16th. Even when Donovan Mitchell (the Cavs lone all-star) shot or made a basket they failed to mention who he played for. If a person tuning in after the introductions and was just a “casual” (as the young people like to say) they might not have known what team Mitchell played for. The only thing that came out of their mouths when Mitchell did something was “Spida” and that was usually Parker saying it. It's a known fact that Reggie Miller hates Cleveland and has since he played because things rarely went well for him against the Cavs. But of course, the three included the L.A. Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets (last year’s champs so that’s understandable), New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks who are all behind the Cavs.
As far as broadcasting games and events are concerned the NBA has the same problem as Major League Baseball, too much focus on certain franchises. I understand the large numbers of viewers in New York. But the obsession and pushing the narrative constantly of the Knicks franchise is really, really annoying. The Knicks are constantly portrayed as this “historic franchise”, yes, they were one of the original teams in 1946, but that is where it ends historically. They are not a good franchise historically, they have won two titles in 77 seasons, two. Their last title was in the 1972-73 season, their first was in the 1969-70 season. Two titles in a four year period a disaster for a lot of the other 73 seasons. Yet, the NBA promotes them like they are a historically great organization simply because they are located in New York City. That was apparent once again last night. These are the kinds of things that turn off viewers. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that there are more fans of the other 29 teams in the NBA in the world than there are New York Knicks fans.
If the NBA wants to continue to lose viewers and go down a dark road, they should continue to put forth a terrible broadcast like last night’s game. Terrible product and a terrible presentation of the terrible product.
POSTED 02/19/2023 16:41