Feb 4, 2024; Orlando, FL, USA; AFC wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) of the Los Angeles Chargers attempts to make a catch during the 2024 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Sports media people spend way too much time talking about All-Star Games. Every year we have to suffer through the same cycle, especially when it comes to the NBA All-Star Game. The game comes with some brand new format that’s supposed to bring the energy and excitement and effort back and it fails spectacularly. We debate how to fix it. And then it all happens again. That was once again the case this year as Saturday night’s All-Star Game was so embarrassing that many respected, veteran voices who have covered basketball for decades like Bob Ryan and David Aldridge called for its abolishment.

They are probably right.

At its core, the All-Star Game is finished. Players just don’t care about it anymore. They would rather go through the motions, put forth as little effort as possible, and get on with their midseason breaks before the resumption of actual basketball. It is what it is. No number of invocations of the names of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, or Bill Russell is going to change that.

If the players don’t care, why does everyone in sports media spend so much time and energy trying to figure out ways around it? The All-Star Game isn’t broken, it’s completely evaporated as a concept. It’s gone and it’s not coming back. And that’s ok! Just ask the NFL.

It’s fascinating that more professional sports leagues don’t try to model themselves after the most successful sports and entertainment franchise in the country. The NFL had the same issues that the NBA had around their All-Star Game, the Pro Bowl. The game had developed into a farce that the majority of players skipped or didn’t try in, whether to avoid injury or otherwise, so the NFL did the only reasonable thing – they canceled it! And somehow, amazingly, the NFL has survived and maintained its popularity. Nobody is longing for the glory days of Aloha Stadium where the AFC and NFC would battle for the bragging rights of conference supremacy.

The NFL changed up the Pro Bowl into a flag football game and various skills competitions and made the weekend a fun, celebration of football instead of something that felt like an obligation. And the results have been fine. And the best part is we don’t have to spend the days after torturing ourselves with “how do we fix the Pro Bowl?” (Well, ok, we still do that.)

The NBA (as well as the NHL and even Major League Baseball) can do the same thing. If anything, the NBA pulled off a miracle this year in actually getting people to care about a brand new concept that can be a natural replacement for the All-Star Game – the In-Season Tournament. The tournament final between the Lakers and Pacers scored 4.58 million viewers, just short of the 5.5 million viewers for this past weekend’s All-Star Game. And we all know what the better basketball showcase was.

The NBA could do something simple – keep All-Star Saturday where it is and honor the league’s best while just replacing the All-Star Game with the NBA Cup Final next season. It would save so many headaches and allow us to all move on with our lives. It would be a crowning achievement for Adam Silver – replacing something that players and fans don’t care about with something they actually do! And at least he wouldn’t be so ashamed to present the trophy to the winners.

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