NBA fans are getting a good reason to tune into the All-Star Game from now on.
Starting with this season's game, the teams will no longer be separated by conference. Instead, the top vote-getters from each conference will become captains and choose teams. This is a breath of fresh air for a game that lately feels kind of pointless. The starters will still be voted on by fans and will be the pool the captains choose from first.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today a new All-Star Game format for NBA All-Star 2018 in Los Angeles. This will mark the NBA's first All-Star Game without a matchup between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.
Under the revamped format, two captains will draft the 2018 All-Star teams from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves, making selections without regard for conference affiliation. The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference.
The 67th All-Star Game will be played at Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 18 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), with TNT televising the midseason classic for the 16th consecutive 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," said NBPA President Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets. "We're looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in L.A."
"We're excited about the new All-Star format and appreciate the players' willingness to try something new," said NBA President, League Operations Byron Spruell.
In another new feature, the 2018 All-Star teams will play for charity. Each team will select a Los Angeles-area charity or national organization where donations will be used to support local efforts.
The process for selecting the 24 All-Stars will remain the same, with 12 players from each conference earning spots. The 10 starters – two guards and three frontcourt players per conference – will continue to be chosen by a combination of fans (50 percent of the vote), current players (25 percent) and basketball media (25 percent). The NBA's head coaches will still select the 14 reserves, voting for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players at any position in their respective conferences. Specific details about the draft will be announced at a later date.
TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters and captains on Thursday, Jan. 18 and unveil the reserves on Tuesday, Jan. 23. NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off on Monday, Dec. 25 before five Christmas Day games across ESPN, ABC and TNT.
The process for determining the 2018 All-Star Game head coaches is unchanged. The head coaches whose teams clinch the best record in their respective conferences two weeks before the All-Star Game will earn the nod, though the Golden State Warriors' Steve Kerr and the Boston Celtics' Brad Stevens are ineligible for the honor because they coached in the 2017 All-Star Game. Each All-Star Game coach will lead the team that includes the captain from the same conference.
It is a pretty great idea, although as long as they are in separate conferences look for LeBron James and Stephen Curry to be the captains for a long time. But we will see teammates playing each other, players throwing shade at each other by not picking them, and enemies playing together. The amount of drama in the NBA makes this a great idea alone. And they needed to do something — the game is losing its edge.
This will give the game the playground feel they have always wanted. Here's hoping that it goes well.