The All-Star game: The NBA's failed product


The NBA All-Star Game is a mockery of my favorite sport, basketball. Each year, I get inappropriately excited for a game that seems to place more importance on the lead-up to the game than on the athletic exhibition itself. This year was a particularly egregious example of this, thanks to the changes made to the entirety of All-Star weekend. 
The All-Star Game has always been an event for the fans: an exhibition between the established stars in the league and the budding young guns exciting the league at the time. In theory, the All-Star Game is a perfect event for the showmanship of professional basketball. Unfortunately, in practice, the game has become a mockery and it needs an extreme facelift before it becomes something worthy of the hype that the sports media infrastructure places on it.
Let's start with the way the voting for the game has changed. As long as I can remember, the starting lineups have been decided by fan-vote. Before this year, the lineups were set by position. The fans' opinion of the best point-guard, shooting-guard, small-forward, power-forward, and center in each conference start for the respective sides. Starting this year, the two best guards and three best front-court players were voted on and given starting roles for the Eastern and Western Conference squads. 
This hinders the ability for a center, like Roy Hibbert, who is deserving of the honor because of his game-altering defense, to start in an All-Star Game because a big-name star like Carmelo Anthony has a stronger national brand, even if he has had a disappointing season for an underachieving New York Knicks squad.
 Out West, a solid role player like Jeremy Lin was almost a starter for the Western Conference team because of injuries and his popularity as an Asian-American phenom after 'Lin-sanity'. Both Damian Lillard and James Harden are significantly more deserving of the honor. The fan vote does not produce the best possible rosters for the All-Star Game. 
Then there is the dunk contest. The marquee event on All-Star Saturday, the dunk contest has for a long time been diluted by average role players that do not excite the public. This year seemed promising with All-Stars like Paul George, Damian Lillard and John Wall participating. Unfortunately, the NBA chose to dilute the competition. Instead of the competition focusing around individual's ability to dunk, the NBA attempted to incorporate a team aspect into the dunk contest. I do not care about which conference has the best dunking 'team', I want the contest to establish who is the best individual dunker in the NBA. 
Next came Sunday's main event. A display of alley-oops, half-assed excuses for defense and generally uninspired basketball. I realize that NBA players are submitted to a grueling 82-game schedule and that a weekend off can help a player rest for the home stretch, but being an All-Star should be an honor. The players should play accordingly. 
Finally, and definitely the most nit-picky of my qualms with the All-Star Game experience is the use of sleeved jersey. I'm sorry, but basketball players wear tanks, not the sleeved monstrosities that the NBA is currently pushing the league to adopt. The only explanation I can think of more revenue because of the increased potential for jersey sales. They made the best players in the world look like dweebs, do away with them. 
If the All-Star game ever wants to be reputable, they need to convince the players to play at a higher intensity level, make the dunk contest fun again and let the players wear jerseys that make them actually look like athletes.

- Small is a senior history and political science double major from Ziosville, Ind.