NBA Looking to Make Needed ‘Tweaks’ to All-Star Game

The NBA saw the results of this season’s All-Star Game and they weren’t pretty. Nobody even pretended to play defense, or care at all, and the ratings went entirely down the tubes.Kyrie Irving drives to the basket at the NBA All-Star Game

While the league regularly sends out press releases on milestone viewership, it stayed silent about All-Star Weekend. That spoke volumes, indicating the fans have tuned out what has become one of the NBA’s main events.

So it’s no surprise that the league is looking over how it conducts its All-Star business.

“There’s no doubt — we have to look at the All-Star game and make some tweaks and continue to ensure that it’s an entertaining product for the fans out there,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told Leonard Solms of ESPN. “At the same time, we have to be cautious. It is an exhibition game, so we don’t want players getting hurt during that game.”

It truly is a fine line. But for years the NBA was able to walk it. Competitive basketball … without overdoing it. That is what is being re-examined, according to Tatum.

“Understand: there’s a balance there,” he said, via Solms. “It’s something that we’re looking at — and having conversations, by the way, with the players, on things that we might be able to do differently next year.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone was an All-Star coach and he himself called this year’s event  the “worst basketball game ever played.”

Still, Tatum seemed to defend the game, despite the fact it was blasted by fans and media alike. He pointed to the interaction on social media an

“I would say that when we think about the All-Star game, it is the one time of the year where we bring in the best basketball players in the world, in our league, in one place,” he said.

“That’s why the engagement you’re seeing sets records. This year, we had a record [1.75 billion] fan engagements — social media and digital engagements around the world. The All-Star Saturday night, the performance that Mac McClung gave on All-Star Saturday night, broke records.

“Our games there were broadcasted in 214 countries. … The engagement numbers are really what mattered there because it’s a fan event. It’s an exhibition game; it’s an All-Star weekend demonstrating the best talent in the NBA, but there are also other business objectives there.

“It’s our biggest event to host marketing partners and partners from around the world.”

That said, “engagement” doesn’t equal “viewers,” and the NBA has to do something to make the event worth watching. It’s good to see it at least partially recognizes that.

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