All four leagues have figured out their All-Star games

February 19, 2018 - 9:11 pm

Joe DiBiase reporting

Once upon a time, the all-star games were awful. No effort, no defense, no competition, especially in the Pro Bowl, NBA, and NHL All-Star games. Baseball had their game figured out. It’s pretty much impossible to not give an effort in a baseball game, so that helped the product. Giving the winner of the game home field for Game 7 in the World Series made it meaningful. In recent years the NFL, NHL, and NBA have followed suit.

In the last couple years, we’ve seen John Scott get standing ovations at the NHL All-Star game, Kirk Cousins charge 80 yards to strip Aquib Talib in the Pro Bowl, and LeBron James and Kevin Durant shut down Steph Curry in the final moments of the NBA All-Star game. 

The NHL got the game right switching to 3 on 3. The games are more competitive, while also opening up the ice to show off their players’ skill. In 2016 the championship game was a 1-0 score. Maybe a little too much defense yes, but the point remains.

The Pro Bowl’s improved product is thanks in large part to the players. After reports came out that the league had been considering canceling the game, the players stepped up starting last year. In 2016 the final score of the Pro Bowl was 49-27, in 2017 it was 20-13. The game didn’t just have tackling, there was some big big hits tossed around. The best play I’ve ever seen in an All-Star game, was Bills’ linebacker Lorenzo Alexander hitting a receiver to force a fumble. The fumble was picked up by Alexander, who then lateraled it to corner Aquib Talib. Talib ran almost 90 yards to the end-zone, before opposing quarterback Kirk Cousins came out of nowhere to hit and strip Talib of the ball. Quarterbacks sometimes don’t even chase down defenders in regular season, let alone Pro Bowl games. The NFL does give the players some incentive for winning the game. Winning players get $64,000, while the losers get $32,000. 

The NBA All-Star game was fixed this season, with one mistake. Two captains were picked to draft teams, LeBron James and Steph Curry. Two players that most people can pick sides, as they’ve met in the NBA Finals 3 years in a row. That’s a great format and idea. Problem is the draft should’ve been broadcasted on television. It wasn’t. The NBA did provide an award of $350,000 to a charity of the captains’ choice. The players did chip in an extra $100,000 to that pool.

Sunday’s game featured tons of blocked shots, full  court press, taps, double teams, screens, etc. The game got really intense in the final minutes of a one possession game. The game’s intensity speaks to LeBron and Curry. Both let it be known they wanted a game with more effort, and especially LeBron led by example. Flying from one side of the court to the other, swatting shots away on one end, and throwing down dunks on the other. The game was even decided on a defensive play. Down 3 points, Team Steph inbounded the ball with about 10 seconds left. Joel Embiid got the ball to Curry, who was double teamed by his Warriors teammate Kevin Durant as well as LeBron. Curry had to give the ball up to a teammate who couldn’t get a shot off. That’s how Team LeBron won.

These are still All-Star games. They’re never going to give you a playoff atmosphere or intensity, but all 4 leagues have done a great job at getting them as close to a regular season intensity as they could. All 4 games are far and away more entertaining then they were, and hopefully it stays that way.

Comments ()