NBA All-Star Game: Why Didn’t 2 Captains Pick the Teams in 2024? Debunking Reason Behind Adam Silver Going Old School

Published 02/12/2024, 7:14 AM EST

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Now that the NFL’s Super Bowl LVIII has concluded, basketball keeps sporting entertainment alive with its latest installment of the All-Star Game. For its 73rd edition of the All-Star Game, after a lot of trial and error over the last six seasons, the NBA decided to return to both the classic matchup between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference and the traditional scoring system with four 12-minute quarters as the league celebrates basketball’s deep roots in the state of Indiana.

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According to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the league is reverting to the original All-Star game format to fit with the theme for this entire season, which is “back to basketball.” However, there is one more dimension to this. The changes made to the All-Star draft in 2023 failed (to put it mildly) to yield the intended results.

While the new All-Star format had a lot of exciting implementations, the 2023 All-Star game simply fell flat, and by a wide margin. It was one of the worst games in event history in terms of viewership. According to Sports Media Watch, viewership for the game plummeted by 27%, with ratings dropping by 29% compared to the previous year. The 2023 All-Star game saw an average combined rating of 2.2 and 4.59 million viewers across TNT and TBS, marking it as the lowest-rated and least-watched edition of the game to date. Previous lows were set at 3.1 (in 2021 and 2022) and 6.1 million viewers (in 2021). While All-Star Game viewership has been on a downward trend, the declines witnessed last year represent the sharpest drop for the game since 2000.

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The drop-off in ratings can also be explained by the fact that the star players were barely on the court. James and Antetokounmpo, the team captains for the 2023 event, were barely on the court because of minor injuries, and their teammates played on cruise control. Additionally, notable players like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were absent from the game due to injuries, further impacting viewer interest.

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Changes in the All-Star Game format

From the inaugural NBA All-Star Game held at the Boston Garden in 1951 until the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, the league followed a format pitting the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference, showcasing the world’s top players. However, since 2018, the NBA shifted to a draft format for the All-Star Game. This format allowed the highest vote-getters from each conference to select players from the pool of those who earned All-Star selections. In 2020, another significant change was introduced with the adoption of the Elam Ending, a scoring format that establishes a target point total for teams to reach to win, ensuring each game ends with a winning basket or free throw rather than the clock running out.

In 2023, for the first time, captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picked their teams just 30 minutes before tip-off, adopting a “schoolyard” style approach to the event. However, this season marked a return to the standard selection process. The 10 starters were chosen through a combination of fan, media, and player votes, while the 14 reserves were determined by votes from the coaches.

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As a part of the changes, the league has also decided to do away with the Elam ending. While the draft and Elam Ending added an element of excitement over the past few years, Commissioner Silver aims to refocus attention on the game itself. Although the NBA All-Star Game will no longer feature an untimed fourth quarter or conclude upon reaching the Final Target Score, teams will still compete to win each quarter, with proceeds benefiting charitable organizations of their choice.

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Written by:

Darshita Daga

417Articles

One take at a time

“When you think about winning, you go to the extreme '' - I try to stick by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s words. As a passionate reader, who found comfort in libraries, I am pursuing a degree course in English. With my newfound admiration for Giannis and the Bucks, I decided to explore NBA journalism as my career.
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Edited by:

Saumya Khanduja

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