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3 Ways NBA can add Stakes to the All-Star Game

After the tragic passing of NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant in early 2020, the NBA adopted a new format to its All-Star Game. The new format makes it so each quarter essentially begins a new game. For the first three quarters, the goal for each team is to simply win the quarter by scoring more points than the other team in the 12-minute time frame like a traditional basketball game. The team that wins the quarter gets money donated to the charity they are playing for.

The fourth quarter then becomes an untimed quarter where the teams are playing to reach a “target score.” The target score is determined by taking the total amount of points scored between the two teams through the first three quarters and adding 24 points to that total. The number 24 is a tribute to the number Bryant wore throughout the back half of his career in Purple and Gold.

While the format creates an interesting fourth quarter, it feels like a gimmick, and the first three quarters still consist of mostly layups and alley-oops with little to no defense being played. The players are still not playing hard the whole game.

Here are three ways the NBA can add stakes to the All-Star Game to make the entire game meaningful to both the fans of the Association, and the players participating

Change Format Back To East Vs West, Winning Conference Receives Home-Court Advantage In NBA Finals

In 2018, the NBA abandoned the traditional “East vs West” format in the All-Star Game to a “Captains” format, where the East and West leaders in All-Star voting would be captains for the All-Star Game. Said captains would draft players regardless of conference to compete against each other in the game. The captains idea has been a success, but if the NBA wanted to add stakes to the All-Star game, the biggest way to do so is to steal the old MLB All-Star Game stipulation from 2003-2016 where the winning conference would receive home-field advantage in the Finals. In order to do so, the NBA would have to revert back to the “East vs West” format, but it would bring instant intrigue to the game and force the players to play hard all four quarters.

Winning Team Earns $1 Million Each Paid By Losing Team

If the NBA doesn’t want to change the “Captains” format of the All-Star game, the next best option for the league is to give an incentive to the winners. Charity is nice to play for, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the players play hard the whole game because it is not their money they are gaining or losing. In this scenario, each member of the winning team would each receive a $1 million dollar bonus to their contract at the end of the season. Each member of the losing team would have to give up $1 million dollars of their salary at the end of the season to pay the winning team. Yes, all NBA players are rich, but money is money.

Winning Team Receives Paid Trip To Vacation Destiny Of Choice

Similar to what the NFL does for the Super Bowl MVP, why not incentivize the players from the winning team with an all-paid vacation during the offseason? Sure, players can go on vacation whenever they may choose, but a bonding experience with your peers, plus a VIP treatment to the best hotels, food and shops, and it’s paid for by the league?! I think all players would sign up and play hard for the right to earn said vacation.

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