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Can they fix it? What the NBA is still getting wrong about All-Star Weekend

There’s every possibility NBA All-Star 2020 will be a joyous and momentous occasion. It may even be a highlight of an already exciting and parity-filled season.

But there’s a lingering sense around the league and the basketball world that this All-Star weekend will be rather mediocre — an escapable feeling like these All-Star festivities will be forgotten years down the line.

The changes the league has made to this particular weekend are meant to switch it up, to elevate the stakes and heighten the intrigue. But in reality, they may have the opposite effect.

The first three quarters of the All-Star game will be played in the regular format, but the fourth quarter — instead of being played in 12 minutes like normal — will be played with no time limit. The team that scores 24 points (a tribute to Kobe Bryant) on top of the leading team through three quarter’s score will be the winner. For example, if it was 100-92 after three quarters, the first team to reach 124 wins.

This is meant to be a touching tribute to the late great Mamba, while also adding intrigue by scrapping the clock for the final quarter and watching star players hunt for buckets. But the change is still odd and feels unnecessary. The last two All-Star games have had intriguing fourth quarters; in 2018 the game came down to a last-minute bucket by LeBron James.

There were other ways for the NBA to honor the Bryants, such as another move they made, with LeBron’s squad wearing the number 2 in honor of Gigi, and Giannis’ team wearing number 24 in honor of Bean. This change is touching, moving, beautiful, and we are definitely behind.

The NBA has also implemented a change to the 3-point contest at All-Star weekend. Two new shots will be added, 6 feet behind the 3-point line, worth three points each. The rounds will be 27 shots instead of 25, with time limits of 70 seconds instead of 60.

This is an interesting change, especially with gunslinger Damian Lillard in the contest, but once again, was it necessary? The NBA likes to get cute with its changes, without addressing the real issues that cause the All-Star weekends to fall flat.

The dunk contest used to be a pillar of the weekend. We were treated to Michael Jordan versus Dominique Wilkins, Vince Carter putting on a show, hell, even prime-Dwight Howard going nuts. The biggest names in the league would participate in the dunk contest, and then the next night go head-to-head in the game.

Now and recently, besides one year when Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon faced off with some of the most unique dunks we’ve ever seen, it’s curtains. The NBA needs to look into incentivizing superstar players to compete or revamping the format to make the contest more exciting.

Some have speculated about adding in an event of a one-on-one bout between superstars for bragging rights and a hefty sum of cash for whoever wins. This, fans would like to see.

The NBA is a model league for how it addresses social issues and allows its players to speak up on matters in the national and global spotlight. It is innovative, lucrative, and flashy due to its stars that are larger-than-life and operate on the court without a helmet masking their face.

But right now, the NBA needs to be brave, and look itself in the mirror to decide what works and what doesn’t at All-Star weekend. The fans and players alike only want the best output. Adam Silver, let’s make it happen.