East v West ship sails, captains to pick own teams

NEW YORK • Changes are coming to the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game this season, tweaks that ought to make the annual exhibition match more watchable.

The game has turned into a lacklustre affair in recent years, prompting the league to announce a drastic shift on Tuesday: Instead of the traditional East-versus-West format, the player with the most votes in each conference will be named captain, and will take turns choosing the rest of their respective teams.

So, basically, it is playground-style.

"I'm thrilled with what the players and the league have done to improve the All-Star Game, which has been a priority for all of us," said Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, the players' union president and a nine-time All-Star, in a statement from the league.

"We're looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in LA."

Los Angeles' Staples Centre will host next year's All-Star game on Feb 18.

The process of building the teams will be the same: Voting will take place to choose the five starters from each conference, the league's coaches will be called upon to select the seven reserves and the coach with the best record in each conference will be in charge of the respective teams.

From there, though, the process of selecting who will play in each team will be done by the top vote-getter in each conference.

Previous editions had consisted of virtually no defence and provided fans with little reason to tune in beyond uncontested dunks and players flinging up three-pointers. This is an attempt to change that by introducing a different element to the production and create some drama by seeing how the captains will choose their squads.

Will beefs between certain stars factor into decision-making? Who will be the last player chosen?

This year, when factoring in fan votes plus media and player selections, LeBron James received the highest total in the Eastern Conference, while Kevin Durant claimed the most in the West, meaning they would have been the team captains if the format had been implemented then.

Another change to next year's game is that the teams will play for charity. Each team will select a Los Angeles-area charity or a national organisation where donations will be used to support local efforts.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2017, with the headline 'East v West ship sails, captains to pick own teams'. Print Edition | Subscribe