In the middle of the NBA season, with injuries and fatigue affecting many players, the All-Star weekend provided a break from day-to-day basketball activities.
The league’s brightest stars came together in one city to put on a show for the basketball world in a newly structured NBA All-Star game.
The game was played Feb. 18 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Rather than the stars of the Eastern Conference facing off against the stars of the Western Conference, an All-Star draft took place weeks prior to the game.
Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors took on the roles of captain in a pickup-style draft in which every all-star in the league was available for selection.
In doing away with the classic East vs. West matchup, the new format helped balance the two teams.
The All-Star game hasn’t been very balanced in recent years. The West has boasted more talent and won six of the last seven All-Star games.
Team Lebron consisted of household names like Warriors’ star Kevin Durant, New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and former teammate Kyrie Irving, who now plays for the Boston Celtics.
Team Curry countered with Houston Rockets star James Harden, Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid.
Team Lebron eventually edged out Team Curry 148-145.
The game was especially exciting as teammates became opponents. Not only did Irving and James reunite, but Curry and Durant also squared off in a rare situation on the court.
The new All-Star draft happened in secret, which raised questions about the picking order and the reasoning behind these picks.
These unanswered questions have many fans pushing for next year’s draft to be televised.
Putting these million-dollar players in such a format seems to have connected with the fans. It also gave the athletes more motivation to play well and win.
James needed to prove to the world he chose a superior team, while Durant, who is strongly believed to have been the first pick, had to prove he was worthy of such a distinction.
It will be interesting to see how they build on the game in future years, but this season showed a positive change in format.