The NBA All-Star Game has proven once again to be the best All-Star competition of the major American sports, showcasing the game's biggest stars in a game full of highlight-reel shots and a fourth quarter where the players are actually trying to win the game.
There's pride at the NBA All-Star Game. The game has become incredibly exciting, leaving fans to hope that pride and excitement would carry over to the skills competitions on Saturday night.
The NBA Dunk Contest is an abomination. The Skills Challenge, or whatever the NBA calls dribbling around cones shaped like Jerry West and throwing a few passes into round targets before hitting a layup, is performed at half speed with little energy. The event where the NBA tries to remind us the WNBA exists by teaming up a current player with a female professional and a legend has never worked, yet the NBA deflates all the energy in the building—and on TV—each year by forcing fans to watch that nonsense.
Truth be told, the only event the NBA hasn't really sanitized to unrecognizable proportions is the three-point contest, which, let's face it, is just a bunch of jump shooters hitting shots they should all hit with nobody guarding them.
Still, somehow, the three-point shootout has consistently been the most compelling event of the NBA All-Star skills extravaganza.
I'm not even sure if it's the NBA's fault for ruining its product. The All-Star Game is great again after years of mediocre contests because this generation of players really seems to care about winning. For years the biggest issue with any All-Star competition in the major sports is realizing the players don't care.
So what can the American sports leagues do to make their All-Star events roundly more compelling? Before we attempt to fix the NBA's Saturday night, let's take a look at what the other professional leagues do for their All-Star extravaganzas.