NBA alters layout for All-Star Game

AFP, LOS ANGELES

Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 16

The NBA on Tuesday announced a radical overhaul of the league’s All-Star Game format, scrapping the traditional Eastern Conference versus Western Conference duel in favor of two teams chosen by nominated captains.

Under the changes, which were hammered out by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), a captain from each conference is to pick the sides from a pool of starters and reserves.

The two captains are to take turns selecting players, with no regard to conference affiliation, a statement said, adding that the captains would be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most votes in a poll of fans.

The NBA All-Star Game, which has been branded a meaningless exhibition in recent years, is to take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 18 next year.

“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,” NBPA president Chris Paul said. “We’re looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in LA.”

NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell welcomed the input of players keen to “try something new.”

In another new move, the two All-Star teams are to play for charity, raising money for either a Los Angeles-based nonprofit or a national organization.

The All-Star Game starters and captains are to be announced on Jan. 18.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver had signaled that changes to the All-Star Game were coming after this year’s event in New Orleans, which ended in a farcical 192-182 victory for the Western Conference over the Eastern Conference.

“I promise this time that next year’s will be different,” Silver said in June. “I think we all recognized, and we talked about it at last year’s All-Star, we’ve gotten to the point where everyone seemed to agree it needed to be more competitive.”