2023 NBA All-Star Weekend disappoints

The 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend is here, but it didnt live up to expectations.

Photo provided by ESPN

The 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend is here, but it didn’t live up to expectations.

Lathan Pearce, Staff Writer

The All-Star Weekend consists of many different games and competitions over three nights. It includes a celebrity game, a “Rising Stars” game, a “Skills Challenge,” a dunk contest as well as a three-point contest, which all lead to the final All-Star Game. The NBA 2023 All-Star Weekend was one of the worst of the last few years. The main reason for this disappointment was the lack of effort from the players. 

The starting night consisted of the celebrity and “Rising Stars” games. The celebrity game is always a great start to the weekend in my opinion. While the basketball being played is nowhere near top tier like many NBA fans are accustomed to, it is a way for casual fans to watch celebrities play basketball in a fun environment. 

While it is an exciting way for the NBA to attempt to extend its audience, it is also for a good cause as they did a “four-point contest” before the game and every make was $5,000 that went to the “D Up on Cancer” charity. The only complaint I have with this system is the “four-pointers” were about 30 feet out, which resulted in only three shots made out of at least 20 attempts. This made the whole charity portion of this event feel disingenuous because they raised less money than they would have with just a slightly more achievable event.

The “Rising Star” game was one of the highlights. The event invites the best players in their rookie or sophomore years to play against one another. It also brings in players from the NBA’s development league, known as the Gatorade League (G-League). The format for this game is what makes it special. There are 28 players selected, with seven of them being from the G-League, and then the NBA players were drafted in January to three teams. The seven G-Leaguers were not part of the draft and were onto a team by made up of only G-league players. 

These four teams then played in a two-round tournament with first to 40 points in each game winning. This format is made for quick, exciting games. The NBA also interviewed players while they played in the game, which was a humorous look into NBA players’ thoughts while on the court. The final game of the tournament was only first to 25 points however, and after the fun of the first two games, the final felt a little anticlimactic. This was my biggest gripe with the challenge. Why not make the game first to 25 points in the first round and then 40 points for the final. It would make a lot more sense.

The next night there was the “Skills Challenge,” a three-point contest and a dunk contest. This night is usually when things begin to heat up. The format for the “Skills Challenge” was changed two years ago and not for the better. It went from a solo event to a three-player team event. It feels like all the players phone it in now, with Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson being the biggest example this year. The old event used to have a more competitive feel to it. I’d recommend just reverting the event back to what it used to be or just completely replacing the “Skills Challenge” with something else.

The three-point contest was decent but not nearly as good as the last few years. The format is better than it has ever been, but it’s missing the firepower from the three-point line I’d hope to see. They relied more on popular names than the actual top three-point shooters. Out of the eight contestants, only one, former Oklahoma University’s Buddy Hield, was in the top ten of three-point percentage. 

The last few dunk contests have been subpar at best, with last year’s being completely horrible. This year, the NBA made the controversial decision to bring in Mac McClung, a G-Leaguer rather than an actual NBA player. However, it was the best choice they could’ve made. McClung went out and dominated with three perfect scores in his four dunks, winning by a mile. It was encouraging to see the dunk contest be fun again because it used to be many fans’ favorite outside of the main event.

Speaking of the main event, the actual All-Star Game was next. For the past five years, the NBA has held a draft where the captains of both conferences (the players who receive the most votes in either conference) were able to draft the other All-Star nominees for their team. This year, however, they decided to do it live right before the game began. It turned out to be extremely entertaining because you got to see the player’s live reactions to where they were picked in the draft.

The game itself was, however, unfortunately, a bore. Much like the “Skills Competition,” there was little effort from the players involved, which has been the biggest problem with the All-Star game for a while now. Every player in the even essentially refused to play defense. While many are arguing there need to be more incentives for players to care (namely more money involved), I think the NBA needs to change the game from a full game to make it more like the “Rising Stars” game, where they play tiny games, first to 40 points. If the NBA did a three-game series between the two teams, I feel like they could possibly be convinced to put a little more effort into the game. 

All in all, the weekend wasn’t horrible. However, with the three-point contest and “Skills Challenge” feeling like they had something missing a disappointing main event, the All-Star weekend needs some revisions going forward to stay relevant. 

Contact Lathan Pearce at [email protected]