Please Make the NBA All-Star Game a Pickup Game

Ed CohenCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2010

PHOENIX - FEBRUARY 15:  Kobe Bryant #24 talks to Amar'e Stoudemire #1 and Chris Paul #3 of the Western Conference during the 58th NBA All-Star Game, part of 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend at US Airways Center on February 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The players have been picked, the outrage (Allen Iverson starting) committed. All that's left now is to play the stupid NBA All-Star Game.

I make this plea every year: Play it differently. Turn the game into a pickup game.

Here’s how and why:

A half-hour or so before the tip you have all the players elected or named to the game assemble at mid-court. The two players who received the most votes from the fans get to be captains. The captains then take turns selecting players. They can pick any player, regardless of conference.

Under this scenario we would discover the following:

  • Which players are most valued by their peers.
  • Which players are least valued or liked. (Can you say dissed?)
  • Which captains are so stupid they forget to pick a point guard.

Unlike almost every other aspect of all-star weekend, this would produce drama. Humor, too. Just let the captains have microphones during the selection period.

This would also inject a measure of justice.

That over-the-hill superstar voted in as a starter (I'm talking about you, Mr. Iverson, cut by the Grizzlies) would not only not start, he would likely end up being picked late, maybe last.

If we absolutely must have coaches—and I say we don’t—they could still pick the starters, make substitutions, get towels.

Going pickup is a natural, even traditional, way to organize a competitive basketball game. So why not give it a try?

As things stand right now, the most interesting part of the NBA All-Star Game is talking about who was left off the rosters.