It’s not every day that an NBA game combines over 300 points among both teams, but it’s almost every year now that this occurs in the league’s annual All-Star match.
Out of the top 10 highest scoring All-Star Games in history, seven have come from this century, and within the past 10 seasons, the score has exceeded 280 points.
Team LeBron was victorious in the 2019 showcase with their come-from-behind win over Team Giannis in a final score of 178-164 totaling 342 points between 26 players.
Within the first 13 seconds of the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo torpedoed down the lane with a slam dunk to get his team on the board. Two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard retaliated in the following seconds and easily nailed an uncontested 3-point shot to give Team LeBron their first points.
The lack of defense in the All-Star Game is expected as players do not want to risk injury from voluntarily participating in a charity game that does not have any impact on the rest of the season. However, in recent years, the game has turned into an offensive free-for-all as opposed to all-star game featuring the league’s best talent.
At halftime, Joel Embiid was asked if Team Giannis will exceed 200 points after already scoring 95 in the first 24 minutes. The two-time All-Star said that they probably will not because around the fourth quarter the team will decide to play some defense.
In 2017, the contest featured a 374 point shootout between the East and the West and resulted in Anthony Davis breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game scoring record with an unprecedented 52 points.
Less than one month later at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he spoke with the Players’ Union President Chris Paul on the recent match. In this conversation Paul said to Silver that “we need to fix this.”
Silver said Paul suggested the league goes “back with maybe the same group we negotiated the collective bargaining – Michael Jordan on the owners’ side, Jeanie Buss, Wyc Grousbeck, James Jones, Kyle Korver and LeBron [James] and others – let’s all get back together and figure out a way to do this.”
Major League Baseball has also reached their own Collective Bargaining Agreement in November 2016. One of changes created by the players and their owners ruled that the All-Star Game would no longer determine who received home field advantage in the World Series.
Prior to this change, the American League won 11 of 14 midsummer classics that ultimately established home-field advantage.
Even if the NBA wanted treat their All-Star Game in the same nature as the MLB used to, it would be difficult because teams are no longer separated by division, rather by captains who chose which players they want on their teams.
At the Sloan conference Silver also said that the league can revise the All-Star Game by adding a 10-point half-court shot or even a 4-point shot.
In an interview with ESPN, Stephen Curry said that the half-court shot “would make [the Game] worse” but the 4-point shot has potential.
Steve Kerr said in the same article that the players ultimately have a responsibility to fix this scoring issue with the All-Star game and sees it as “a collective thing. I think they have to decide, maybe with the players’ association, they have to decide what they want the game to look like, and right now it’s a joke.”
The winning team in the NBA All-Star Game receives money for a local charity in the host-city. This year Team LeBron received $350,000 for Rights Moves for Youth while losing Team Giannis received $150,000 for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.
— NBA Cares (@nbacares) February 18, 2019
Unfortunately, this is not enough of an incentive for players to make the game more competitive and according to Draymond Green, the solution is to “raise the money.” Even if this is what the league ultimately decides upon, the ball is in their court and it’s time for them to score.
Andrea Keppler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.