Listen, I get it. Social media has turned everybody into hypersensitive phone scrollers.
But, I mean, c’mon. C’mon.
The latest move to appease the egos of NBA players — to ensure none can feel slighted or insulted or turned into a meme – has crossed the limit of sensibility.
With so many changes to the format of the increasingly irrelevant All-Star game, you’re forgiven if you haven’t yet heard the latest wrinkle. Instead of drafting the players in the logical order, the team captains — Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James — will first choose the reserves, according to the league’s broadcast partner Turner Sports.
Why? It avoids ‘the schoolyard stigma of being picked last.’ Next they might adopt the buddy system for bathroom trips. Or, maybe they’ll unfold cots for nap time between quarters. Right after the chocolate milk and ceremony of participation medals.
The issues with this format are too exhaustive to list, so we’ll end here: it’s insulting to the consumer and detrimental to the product. As if viewers aren’t intelligent enough to understand that the final reserve would be the last person picked. As if they’re supposed to take seriously a draft done backward. As if there’s any correlation between the unathletic kid chosen last at the park and an NBA All-Star earning $30 million.
Of course, there’s the unsaid slogan to take into account: Brand above all else for today’s NBA player. Instagram likes are affirmation. If you’ve ever watched an edited offseason workout video, you might be shocked to learn they occasionally miss shots.
So why not continue to evade reality and pretend nobody will be drafted last?
In all seriousness, a final plea to the NBA: there’s still time to ditch the dumb and overcompensating idea.
Now on to the other particulars of Sunday’s All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.
HOW IS A WINNER DETERMINED?
Like the previous three All-Star games, there’s a ‘target’ score that’s 24 points higher than the total reached by the team leading through three quarters. In other words, if Team LeBron has a 100-80 advantage after the third quarter, the winner is the first to get to 124 points.
WHO ARE THE PARTICIPANTS?
Three of the selected starters — Kevin Durant, Zion Williamson and Steph Curry — were scratched due to injuries.
So here are the new 10 starters: Antetokounmpo (Captain, Bucks), James (Captain, Lakers), *Joel Embiid (Sixers), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), *Lauri Markkanen (Jazz), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Donovan Mitchell (Cavs), *Ja Morant (Grizzlies), Luka Doncic (Mavericks) and Kyrie Irving (Mavericks).
And here are the 12 reserves: **Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves), Bam Adebayo (Heat), **De’Aaron Fox (Kings), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Paul George (Clippers), Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies), Julius Randle (Knicks), Dame Lillard (Blazers), Jrue Holiday (Bucks), **Pascal Siakam (Raptors), Domantas Sabonis (Kings).
* (Injury replacement starter); ** (Injury replacement reserve).
WHO ARE THE COACHES?
Joe Mazzulla (Celtics, Team Giannis) and Michael Malone (Nuggets, Team LeBron).
HOW DOES THE DRAFT WORK?
For the first time, it’s occurring (7:30 p.m. ET) right before the game. Conference doesn’t matter anymore, and neither does logic. As revealed by TNT host Ernie Johnson on “Inside the NBA,” the reserves will be chosen first. So the team captains are building rosters upside down.
James has been a captain five times previously under this format and is undefeated.
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