Folks, the NBA has fixed the All-Star game. If you didn't watch tonight's contest, thinking that it would just be a bunch of dunks and no defense, then you made a serious mistake. Let's start by saying that, of course, the game did have a bunch of dunks and no defense. That's still fun, but with the new format, where each of the first three quarters were like individually scored games going into the fourth quarter, the players actually cared about the final period, and played as if it was the playoffs.
Seriously, guys were diving all over the floor, drawing charges, and putting all-out effort into the game. It's what we all dreamed an All-Star game could be, with the best players in the sport playing as hard as they can. And all of this comes after fans completely hated on the new All-Star rule changes when they were first announced a few weeks back. Not only did it make the game better, but it led to a competitive contest, which we haven't seen during the NBA All-Star game in years.
For my money, it was one of the most memorable NBA moments in recent history. The game was that fun. You can already pencil it in with the best All-Star game moments ever, joining Michael Jordan's sendoff in 2003, Magic Johnson's return in 1992, and the epic showdown in 2001. The NBA has completely revolutionized the All-Star experience, and has many wondering how the likes of the NFL and MLB can catch up.
With the game in the books, we decided to put together some of our biggest takeaways from the epic night of action, from the rule changes to the amazing Kobe Bryant tributes throughout the evening. Check it all out below.
The Rule Changes Worked Perfectly
As I wrote above, this is probably as close to a real All-Star game as we're ever going to get. The best talent in the NBA going at it for an untimed 4th quarter with no commercial breaks was exactly what this league needed right now. Players were going so hard that we saw guys drawing charges, players yelling at refs, and even a freaking coaches challenge late in the game. If you tuned in not knowing anything about basketball, you probably would have swore it was an actual game. Bravo to the NBA for pulling this off and making the All-Star game fun again.
Small Tweaks For Next Year
Nobody should really have any complaints about this format going forward, but with that being said, there are a few small tweaks the league should look into. First, make it so you can't end the game on a free throw. I get that going into this game they probably had no idea if it would be close or not, but the fact that it ended on a free throw was a little anti-climactic. Make them earn it! Second, have it so a team has to win by two points instead of just reaching a final score. Time to go real old school childhood with it. And that's really it. Can't say enough how great these new changes are.
The Kobe Bryant Tributes Were Amazing
It honestly still doesn't really feel real that Kobe is gone, but the NBA did an amazing job this weekend to honor Bryant's legacy. From the truly remarkable performance by Jennifer Hudson before the game started to the players all wearing the numbers 2 and 24 during the game, it was a really special night all around. To top it off, naming the All-Star game MVP after Kobe is just perfect. We all know he would have loved how competitive that 4th quarter was tonight.
The Players Loved It
Probably the most important part of this new format was that the players really seemed to buy in and take it seriously. Without that, we probably would have been looking at the same old thing, but instead the guys were into it and wanted to win. As Giannis said after the game, he loved the new set of rules and wants it to stay like this going forward. He's not the only one.
Rest of the Season Will Be Crazy
I feel like we got a good taste tonight about how crazy the rest of the regular season and playoffs are about to be. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are playing on another level right now. Kawhi Leonard continues to play unreal. Giannis is closing in on another MVP award. The talent on display tonight was really just a big tease for what's about to come. Let's not forget that even though the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks all look like the current favorites, the league is still more wide open than it's been in years. The second half of the season is truly setting up to be very special.