How to fix the All-Star Game
Creative hoops fans present some crazy ideas for a ho-hum game
- Kikuo Johnson for ESPNThe new All-Star Game: A one-on-one throwdown.
This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 17 Cuba Issue. Subscribe today!
WE KNOW THIS because numbers never lie: Last season the game drew 8 million TV viewers. That might seem like a lot -- but not compared with the 23 million who watched Michael Jordan drop 30 in an OT classic 21 years ago. So what's missing from the Midwinter Clunker? (Ya know, besides real stakes, a hint of defense and a truly transcendent star like MJ?) We asked some, uh, creative hoops fans for their best solves for the Feb. 16 tilt.
King James Vs. Durantula
Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
Let's have a one-on-one competition. No passing. No screens. Just two guys going at it. Basketball is a team game, but c'mon, the NBA is the closest thing we have to real-life superheroes. And the eternal question with superheroes has always been: Who's stronger? It's the same with NBA players. Curry vs. Westbrook, LeBron vs. Durant. It'd be like Superman vs. Hulk. I'd be glued to the TV.
Players most impacted: LeBron James, Kevin Durant
Curry From Four?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop founder, ESPN NBA analyst
We need some way to make NBA players publicly shoot the way they do in practice every day. The whole point of sports is to see people doing things at the edge of their capabilities, and the three-point line just doesn't test them anymore. So I'd put a four-point line out there during the game. Call it 28 feet. You wouldn't be able to shoot it from the corners, but that's okay. I'd also have some sort of long-shooting competition the day before the game. Four contestants, each of them given $10,000 cash. If you were a fly on the wall at an NBA practice, you'd see that these guys gamble with each other like this on a regular basis, so let them concoct their own challenges with one another. It'd be like H-O-R-S-E with money -- and one player walks away with all of it. I'd mic 'em all up too. You might have to bleep some stuff out, but that's fine. These players are awesome. It's a mistake to hide them away.
Players most impacted: Stephen Curry, Carmelo AnthonyKikuo Johnson for ESPNIf players don't have the perfect game, they'll suffer the consequences.
Antonio Davis, 13-year NBA vet, ESPN NBA analyst
I'd institute a penalty box. If a guy travels or misses a layup or dunk, he can't cross halfcourt on his team's next three offensive possessions. If he violates that, he goes to the penalty box and his team has to play a man down -- just like in hockey. These guys are All-Stars, the best of the best. They should be playing a perfect game. If not, they should suffer the consequences.
Players most impacted: Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving
Resort to mayhem
Rob Riggle, comedian, host of 2012 ESPY Awards
I'd put obstacles on the floor, like a Kia under the basket for players to dunk over. The fans loved when Blake Griffin did that. And in honor of his departure, I'd have David Stern, who's been replaced as commish by the actor Daniel Stern for the weekend, actually play in the game. I'd also ask players to remove an article of clothing when the other team scores. And no overtime; if the game is tied at the end, the winner is determined by a dance-off. Okay, now I really like my David Stern idea.
Players most impacted: Blake Griffin, LeBron JamesKikuo Johnson for ESPNNew prize money? One million dollars.
Champs Play Stars -- For A Million Bucks!
Jeff Van Gundy, Former NBA head coach, ESPN NBA broadcaster
I'd eliminate the whole game. But if that's too radical, I wouldn't set it up by conferences. There'd be no fan voting, and I'd play the defending champions vs. the All-Stars. I would increase the prize money to $1 million for each winning player so they would compete harder too, and I'd reward the coach with the best pre-All-Star Game record by not making him coach the team.
Players most impacted: Every Heat player ... except LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
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