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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The 2024 NBA All-Star Game Descends to New Lows as Any Pretense of Defense is Abandoned

The 2023 NBA All-Star Game may have been not only the worst NBA All-Star Game ever, but possibly the worst basketball game ever played by high level players--until the 2024 NBA All-Star Game sunk to a new low: the teams launched 168 three point shots while attempting just five free throws as the Eastern Conference All-Stars routed the Western Conference All-Stars, 211-186. That is not competitive basketball, and it is unrecognizable compared to what the All-Star Game used to be: in 1994, the East beat the West 127-118 in a game featuring a combined 60 free throw attempts but just 30 three point field goal attempts; there was no shortage of highlight plays/moments but the most important thing is that the players competed.

During the wonderful 2024 NBA Legends Brunch, Larry Bird praised today's players and made a request: "The one thing I would really like to see is they play hard in tonight's All-Star Game. I think it's very important when you have the best players in the world together you've got to compete and you've got to play hard." 

Instead, the players disrespected themselves, the sport, and the legends who built the game that provides them with the opportunity to receive generational wealth. No one is expecting the All-Star Game to resemble game seven of the NBA Finals, but the refusal of the modern players to even pretend to want to compete is sad. This speaks to a larger societal issue: people demand to be highly paid and highly praised, but then balk at the notion that they have any responsibility to anyone or anything other than their own desires. LeBron James said that the best thing about the 2024 All-Star Game is that no one got hurt. While no one wants to see anyone get hurt at any time, injury is one of the risks of competition, and NBA players are blessed with guaranteed contracts ensuring that they get paid even if they get hurt. James' comment exposes the mentality of the modern player: get the "bag" (the big, guaranteed contract) and then prioritize yourself above your teammates, your franchise, and even the league that enables you to receive generational wealth.

Instead of playing hard all of the time during the regular season, or even just being available to play at all, many players whine about the new rule implemented this season requiring them to participate in at least 65 regular season games to be eligible for awards such as the MVP and the All-NBA Team. I have a simple, direct response to the players who are complaining about being expected to show up to work: the players should give up the right to have guaranteed contracts in exchange for taking their chances on winning awards as part-time workers. 

The 2024 All-Stars put forth so little effort and demonstrated so little pride in their craft that I am tempted to just cut and paste what I wrote in my recap of last year's travesty. My personal pride--a quality absent from Sunday's pathetic exhibition of highly paid professional putting forth minimal effort to do their jobs--prohibits me from doing that, but I would say that my passionate summary of last year's debacle applies to this year's travesty as well:

Kids are watching this trash and thinking that this is how basketball is supposed to be played: uncontested dunks followed up by half court shots. 

Anyone who wants to put "advanced basketball statistics"--with their emphasis on dunks and three pointers, and their abhorrence of the mid-range game--on trial for destroying the game that many of us know and love should just submit the 2023 All-Star Game telecast as Exhibit #1 and then move for summary judgment. "Advanced basketball statistics" have played a major role in destroying competition--think "load management," the ostracism of post play and the midrange game, and the overemphasis on dunks and three pointers to the exclusion of other shot types--while also taking the fun out of the game. Competition is fun. Running up and down the court without playing defense is not competition, and it is not fun to watch. There is a place and value for using various basketball statistics in an intelligent way, but the "stat gurus" have been given way too much power and way too much influence. Watch a tape of any All-Star Game from the 1980s or any NBA Finals from the 1980s, and judge for yourself if the game was better and more fun to watch then or now.

The league should be embarrassed as a whole, and each player should be embarrassed. Sport is about competition, not exhibition. If the NBA is unwilling or unable to restore the All-Star Game to what it can and should be, at a minimum the NBA's official records should distinguish between statistics posted when the All-Star Game mattered and statistics posted when the All-Star Game became a farce, a sham, and a travesty.

Since 2022, the All-Star Game MVP has been named in honor of Kobe Bryant, but much like Bryant derisively noted that the Lakers do not hang banners for anything other than NBA titles (he would be appalled by the Lakers hanging a banner for winning the inaugural NBA Cup) one suspects that he would not be pleased by having his name on a trophy connected with the pathetic, noncompetitive joke that the NBA All-Star Game has become. Bryant competed hard in the NBA All-Star Game and he tied Bob Pettit's record by winning four All-Star Game MVPs because Bryant took the game seriously.

Damian Lillard received the 2024 All-Star Game MVP. Almost every shot that Lillard took--23 of his 26 field goal attempts--was a three pointer. He shot well--14-26 overall, 11-23 from three point range--but nobody played any defense. Lillard won the Three Point Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, becoming the first back to back Three Point Contest champion since Jason Kapono (2007-08). Lillard joins Michael Jordan, who won the Slam Dunk Contest and All-Star Game MVP in 1988, as the only players to win an All-Star Saturday Night event and the All-Star Game MVP in the same year.

Lillard is a fitting All-Star Game MVP for a sport that is now dominated by a perverse set of values dictated by a distorted view of "advanced basketball statistics." Lillard is "efficient," but he showcases his individual talents in a way that has little influence on winning competitive basketball games. He has a 4-8 playoff series record, and the Milwaukee Bucks trading Jrue Holiday for him has transformed the Boston Celtics--who subsequently acquired Holiday from Portland--into a juggernaut while sending the Bucks spiraling from championship contender to a team struggling to find its identity. Lillard has above average shooting and passing skills, but it is ridiculous that he was selected to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team while deserving players--including Chris Bosh, Adrian Dantley, Alex English, Artis Gilmore, Dwight Howard, Bernard King, and Tracy McGrady--did not receive that honor.  

A kidney stone sent me to the emergency room on Sunday night, and that is the reason that I finished this article later than usual. I could make various jokes about the All-Star Game being so bad that it literally made me sick to my stomach, but the reality is that I am fine now and the All-Star Game is (or should be) on its deathbed. We hear so much about how great Commissioner Adam Silver is, but it appears that he is praised because he tends to let the players do whatever they want, in contrast to his predecessor David Stern, who viewed himself as a caretaker of the sport as a whole. 

Considering how little today's best players care about putting even forth minimal effort, the NBA should get rid of not just the All-Star Game but even the concept of being an All-Star: retain All-Star Saturday Night (it could be renamed something else, like NBA Showcase Saturday) and of course retain the Legends Brunch, but the All-Star Game serves no purpose, and being selected as an All-Star in today's NBA has no meaning. Only the awards given after the season matter, so let the players grumble about having to play at least 65 out of 82 games--oh, the suffering!--to be eligible to win those awards. 

Here is the challenge to Silver: fix the All-Star Game, or have the intestinal fortitude to not only get rid of it but to publicly say that he is getting rid of it because the players do not take it seriously enough to deserve to have it and to receive the bonuses associated with being selected for it.

Recent NBA All-Star Game Recaps:

The 2023 NBA All-Star Game May Have Been the Worst Basketball Game Ever (2023) 

"The 2023 NBA All-Star Game was not only the worst NBA All-Star Game ever, but it may have been the worst basketball game ever 'contested'--and I use that word with hesitation--by high level players. Denver Nuggets Coach Michael Malone, who coached Team LeBron, made this statement after Team Giannis prevailed 184-175: 'It's an honor to be here, and it's an honor to be a part of a great weekend with great players, but it's the worst basketball game ever played.' Malone also admitted that he has no idea how to fix the game.

The NBA All-Star Game began its horrific slide to irrelevance several years ago (see game recaps appended to this article for more details), but yesterday the league's showcase midseason event descended to a nadir from which there may be no recovery. 

At its best, NBA basketball is about the world's greatest athletes competing at a high level at both ends of the court while working together to help their team win. At its worst--and its worst was on full display last night--NBA basketball is about players flaunting their individual skills without any connection to team success while their 'opponents' step aside and watch instead of competing on defense. The 2023 NBA All-Star Game was such an abomination that it is difficult to decide which moment was the worst."

NBA Formally Honors the 75th Anniversary Team, Stephen Curry Wins the All-Star Game MVP (2022)

"How much has the All-Star Game devolved from an actual competition featuring the league's best players to an exhibition of players demonstrating individual skills devoid of competition or team play? Free throws are a quick way to gauge physicality/defense. The 2022 All-Star Game included eight fouls, four of which were called in the fourth quarter, and Team LeBron shot 2-2 from the free throw line while Team Durant shot 7-7 from the free throw line. This season, NBA teams average a little over 21 free throw attempts per game, so it is obvious that the All-Star Game featured few fouls, few free throws, very little physicality, and token defense compared to a normal NBA game.

All-Star Games used to be played much differently. In the first NBA All-Star Game, the East beat the West 98-93 in overtime in 1954 with the East shooting 36 of 44 from the free throw line and the West shooting 17-26 from the free throw line. In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain set an All-Star single game scoring record (42 points) that stood for 55 years. Chamberlain shot 8-16 from the free throw line, and his East squad shot 24-43 from the free throw line. The West, which won 150-130, shot 36-51 from the free throw line. Chamberlain's scoring record took place during a competitive game, and the record stood until long after NBA All-Star Games ceased to be competitive; his record is so exceptional that even in an era during which it is much easier to score in All-Star Games only two players have surpassed the standard that he set--and Curry did so by making a bunch of uncontested three pointers.

For most of All-Star Game history, players from both sides played hard, played defense, and committed a normal amount of fouls. Things began to change in 2007, when the victorious West only attempted nine free throws and the East only attempted 13 free throws, a big decline from 24 and 28 respectively in the 2006 All-Star Game. The 2008 All-Star Game was more of the same. Matters improved a bit during the next several All-Star Games, but in 2014 the East attempted nine free throws and the West attempted 12 free throws. Since 2014, single digit free throw attempts per team have been the norm rather than the exception--and on the rare occasion that a team has attempted more than 10 free throws most of those free throw attempts have happened in the fourth quarter, when the new scoring rules inspire (or shame) the All-Stars into playing some defense."

Giannis Antetokounmpo Wins All-Star MVP With Perfect Shooting, Leads Team LeBron to 170-150 Win Over Team Durant (2021)

"Giannis Antetokounmpo did not have the first perfect shooting performance in NBA All-Star Game history--Hal Greer shot 8-8 from the field en route to scoring 21 points and winning the 1968 NBA All-Star Game MVP--but he set the NBA All-Star Game record for most field goals without a miss (16), and he captured his first All-Star Game MVP by scoring a game-high 35 points as his Team LeBron routed Team Durant, 170-150. Antetokounmpo played just 19 minutes, so he scored nearly two points per minute. Most of Antetokounmpo's shots were lightly contested--if not uncontested--dunks, but he also shot 3-3 from three point range. Each team shot 3-5 from the free throw line as both teams spent most of the game not even pretending to care about defense. Perhaps the league and/or the players think that the fans want to see uncontested dunks and wide open three pointers, but I think/hope that true basketball fans want to see competition. A contested dunk is a great play; an uncontested dunk is just performance art."

Kawhi Leonard Leads Team LeBron to 157-155 Win over Team Giannis as New Format Results in Exciting Fourth Quarter Competition (2020)

"After three quarters, it seemed that the new NBA All-Star Game format had not inspired many players from either team to even pretend to play at a fraction of their full capabilities. Fortunately, the fourth quarter--a race to 157 points based on adding 24 points (in honor of Kobe Bryant) to the 133-124 lead enjoyed by Team Giannis over Team LeBron at the end of the third quarter--featured high level play as both teams looked fully engaged: Team Giannis' Kyle Lowry seemed to try to take a charge on every defensive possession, players from both teams contested almost every shot, and the level of physicality ramped up to top notch regular season levels, if not even first round playoff levels.

It is mystifying that most NBA players seem to need external motivation to play their best in the All-Star Game, but with a substantial portion of the weekend's festivities dedicated to the memory of Bryant--including naming the All-Star MVP award for him--it would have been a travesty for the players to just sleepwalk through the entire proceedings. Kawhi Leonard is a pioneer of the less than commendable load management scourge, but at least he always plays hard when he is on the court. Leonard scored a game-high 30 points on 11-18 field goal shooting (including 8-14 from three point range), grabbed seven rebounds, dished for four assists, and received the first Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award as his Team LeBron won, 157-155."

Kevin Durant Wins his Second All-Star MVP as Team LeBron Overcomes 20 Point Deficit to Defeat Team Giannis, 178-164 (2019)

"The All-Star Game sunk to such depths a few years ago that there were even whispers that it might be discontinued. Instead, the league changed the format from East versus West to a format in which the top two vote-getters conduct a draft consisting of a pool of other All-Stars selected by fans, coaches and media members. LeBron James faced off against Giannis Antetokounmpo in this year's All-Star draft. Popular consensus was that James, whose draft strategy seemed to be focused on acquiring every major player who will be a free agent soon, got the better of Antetokounmpo--but it did not look like that initially, as Team Giannis led 53-37 after the first quarter and 95-82 at halftime. Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points on 17-23 field goal shooting, including 10 dunks. He also had 11 rebounds and five assists. He set the tone in the first quarter with 16 points. Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee teammate/All-Star teammate Khris Middleton added 20 points on 7-13 field goal shooting, including 6-10 from three point range. Middleton scored 12 first quarter points.

To coin--or repeat--a phrase, it seemed like Team LeBron was in 'chill mode' during the first half, but in the second half they exerted at least some defensive effort and they rained down a barrage of three pointers. Team LeBron outscored Team Giannis 96-69 in the second half while shooting 22-49 from three point range. The teams combined to attempt 167 three pointers during the game, compared to 108 two pointers attempted.

Kevin Durant earned MVP honors by scoring 31 points on 10-15 field goal shooting (including 6-9 from three point range) while also contributing seven rebounds. He had 11 points on 4-4 field goal shooting in the fourth quarter. Durant's Golden State teammate Klay Thompson finished second on Team LeBron with 20 points on 7-16 field goal shooting (6-12 from three point range) and he had eight rebounds and four assists as well."

LeBron James Earns Third All-Star Game MVP as Team LeBron Outlasts Team Stephen, 148-145 (2018):

"LeBron James scored a game-high 29 points on 12-17 field goal shooting, grabbed a game-high tying 10 rebounds and dished eight assists as Team LeBron defeated Team Stephen 148-145 in the first year of the NBA's new All-Star selection format; instead of the traditional matchup featuring the Eastern Conference facing the Western Conference, a team of All-Stars picked by LeBron James faced a team of All-Stars picked by Stephen Curry. The NBA tweaked the All-Star Game in the wake of several subpar All-Star Games, culminating in last year's farce.

Before the 2018 All-Star Game, James already held the NBA All-Star Game career scoring record (314 points) and yesterday he surpassed Julius Erving (321 points) to set the record for most points scored in ABA and NBA All-Star Games combined. Bob Pettit (1956, 58, 59, 62) and Kobe Bryant (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) share the record with four All-Star Game MVPs each, while James joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal as three-time winners; James previously earned the All-Star Game MVP in 2006 and 2008."

The NBA All-Star Game Has Become a Farce (2017):

"The Western Conference's 192-182 victory over the Eastern Conference is without question the worst NBA All-Star Game that I have ever watched. Other than the MLB All-Star Game that ended in a tie (and many NFL Pro Bowls of recent vintage) it may be the worst major professional league All-Star Game ever. When the reigning two-time regular season MVP literally lies down on the court instead of attempting to play defense, you know that the event has jumped the shark."

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:36 PM



At Tuesday, February 20, 2024 3:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all hope that you never had kidney stone issues again.

I personally decided to just not watch this one at all. It is just too painful.

Then I saw the score and immediately I knew that indeed was the right decision.

The previous format at least prevented the score from exceeding 200 points, because it meant less than 48 minutes were played. Now that we went back to a standard format, the absurdity of the situation was on full display.

Silver is an absolute disaster as a commissioner, no question.

The problem is that having someone else in that position is a necessary, but not necessarily a sufficient condition, even if that someone is of David Stern's caliber.

This is a cultural problem at this point, and you don't fix deep cultural problems with simple tweaks of the rules and formats.

I have no idea where we go from here, but certainly nowhere good in the near- to medium-term future.

It's best indeed for the game as a whole to just put an end to the ASG circus for a while. The slam dunk context, as you correctly pointed out, has been emptied out of meaning too. The 3-PT shooting contest is the only one that remains viable, but it was also never the main event. Just end it all for a decade. But that won't happen, because it's still on TV and generates revenue, and ratings will have to drop much much lower to really hurt the league and make it a net negative on the one metric they really care about.

At Tuesday, February 20, 2024 3:54:00 PM, Anonymous Keith said...


Adam Silver is not quite as bad as Bud Selig but he is getting there. He seemed unhappy with the level of effort in the game himself on Sunday, though it is the logical end result of the endless amount of load management and analytics ball chucking that he has encouraged during his tenure.

The obsessive focus on "not getting injured" has become so ridiculous. I imagine it will soon be expected that star players will not have to practice, since more players have certainly gotten hurt during routine practices than "meaningless" games like the All-Star game. How long until load management creeps into the NBA Finals itself? Will elite players only play during closeout games now due to fear of injury?

Anyway. Sorry to hear about your kidney stone issues. As a long time reader, I want to wish you good health and I send my best wishes.


At Tuesday, February 20, 2024 6:31:00 PM, Blogger Jordan said...


Glad you are back from your kidney stone issue. Please do take care! Not a fun thing to deal with at all. :(

This year's all star game was unwatchable, a complete joke, and a slap in Bryant's face. I think Silver has done a decent job as commissioner. Unfortunately, he put his trust in 20+ year olds (and Lebron James) to carry on the legacy of the players who came before. Instead of honoring that legacy, this current generation of players, led by Lebron and Steph, took a big steaming pile of doo doo on what was once a prestigious event.

Pampered, spoiled, and unmotivated, today's players make it tough to watch the game. And I'm not even targeting how the game is radically different in terms of playstyle. It's the lack of competitive spirit. Jumping squads to team up, building "super teams", coasting through the season in chill mode, "rest days", load management, and because guys jump around so much, very few rivalries.

It's sad. The NBA had an opportunity to really showcase the league as the NFL is over, MLB is in its earliest Spring Training days, and college hoops hasn't ramped up to March madness yet. This is the NBA's sweet spot, and they vomited all over the fanbase with that miserable showing this past weekend.

Unfortunately, the only thing that will really change the minds of these spoiled players nowadays is something that will take years and really only impact future generations. It'll happen when viewership and popularity continue to dwindle, which in turn will decrease overall revenue, which will make contracts smaller.

At Tuesday, February 20, 2024 11:48:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Unfortunately, this kidney stone is a "repeat" from a year ago, and I sure hope that I don't score a "threepeat."

I've watched every All-Star Game since the 1980s (and seen taped versions of earlier ones), so I will probably always watch no matter how bad it gets, but I certainly understand why anyone would decide to not watch.

You are correct that as long as All-Star Weekend generates revenue the NBA will keep it going.

At Tuesday, February 20, 2024 11:53:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I appreciate your good wishes. Everything that you may have heard about kidney stones is true, and not in a good way. I've been through it before and I will be OK.

I would say that Silver is closer to Selig than he is to Stern. As soon as I saw which media members tried to elevate Silver over Stern right after Silver became the commissioner, I knew that the league was in trouble, because they are the same people who are wrong on almost every issue that they write about. To borrow a long-ago rap lyric, they are so wack I won't even call them out by name, but let's just say I've written about some of them more than once.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 12:02:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you for your good wishes. My "seat" to watch All-Star Game may end up costing as much as the really good seats at the arena, but I have to joke and laugh because what else can I do? NBA Radio's Sam Mitchell always says that he is grateful to have "another day above dirt" and when you think about how short even a long human lifespan is compared to geological time we do have to cherish whatever we get. On "In the Arena" I wrote about a chess playing friend of mine who just died of a heart attack. You just never know. I was at a hotel playing in a chess tournament the day that Kobe died, and I found out what happened by walking into the lobby and seeing every TV tuned into news telecasts with banner messages displaying the grim news.

Regarding the All-Star Game and other issues, there is a path out of this morass, but I don't think that Silver has the necessary character traits to lead the league there. Stern was not afraid to confront individual players, and he was not afraid to butt heads with the Players Association. In contrast, Silver consulted with the Players Association to make sure that they and Draymond Green agreed with the NBA's reaction to Green behaving like a raving lunatic. I preferred Stern's approach. After he suspended everyone involved in the "Malice at the Palace," some media member asked him who he consulted, and Stern replied that it was a committee of one. That is leadership: you make a bold decision, you put your name on it, and you are "10 toes down" as the kids like to say. Silver is more like "dip one toe in the water to gauge the temperature" and that is a deeply ingrained character trait that is not likely to change.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 11:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jordan, most of your points I agree with and are undesirable. The 'jumping teams to form super teams' probably is frowned upon by most depending if that person's favorite player is involved though, but each to their own. However, if you look back at almost any all-time NBA great, that NBA great played with other all-time NBA greats and on super teams. Sometimes that happened naturally and not by jumping teams, but it was still the case. Those players were just more fortunate to have great teammates and/or coaches initially. So, I don't look at jumping team to form super teams as that bad at least compared to NBA history. There's quite a few teams in the league currently with 2+ AS caliber/near caliber players on their teams, and some of these teams might not even make the playoffs. It's very hard to win without talent to begin with. It can change career narratives dramatically.

Take Durant, he very likely doesn't win any titles if he doesn't join GS and win 2 titles. He's not any better of a player if he didn't join GS and hypothetically has 0 titles currently though. Or take Kobe 2006-2008. Give him a decent cast remotely near that of the other top players in the league at the time, and he's winning at least 1 title in that time span and probably more, giving him 6-8 titles. Most view Jordan as some type of deity and nobody can be better than him even if a player won 20 titles. But Kobe is viewed much stronger as the best ever if he has at least 6 titles, if not 7-8.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 1:01:00 PM, Blogger Jordan said...


You are correct that throughout NBA history, the all-time greats often played with all-time greats. But, the difference is in the design. Those teams were built by GMs via trades and drafting. Magic and Bird were exceptions, but for the most part, all of David's pantheon players went through times where they struggled. Where they were not winning. Even MJ.

The struggle, to me, is the beauty of the sport. It reveals those players who rise to the occasion. Who embrace the challenge and determine they will conquer it. You said Bryant with a better cast in 05-07 could have won more championships. Maybe, but Kobe going supernova during that period, was part of his journey, part of his growth and development. He needed those three years to understand that he couldn't do it all himself. It was part of him both succeeding (35 a game during the lowest scoring era ever is GOATish) and failing (first round exits). I love Bryant because he didn't run from his failures, but instead was determined to learn from them and not let them define him. His failure in 08 undoubtedly drove him in 2010 to play through the avulsion fracture and the balky knee that was drained multiple times during the playoffs. Despite what popular opinion says of Bryant's 10 finals, especially game 7, the truth is that not a single 2024 all-star would have even suited up if they had the same injuries as Bryant in the same situation. (Maybe Giannis)

KD had a team good enough to win it all. Deep, long, athletic, young, but with key veterans as well. He had an MVP-level talent playing with him too. That team had the champs on the ropes up 3-1. But KD and Russ both choked. Big time. And instead of learning from his failure, instead of embracing the challenge to come back and win it, instead of accepting responsibility for his gag job, holding himself accountable, KD chose the path of least resistance. It's why he's not highly respected, despite his all-time great skillset and ability. Him on GSW eliminated all competition from the sport. Him winning was inevitable.

If he had stayed, while there was no guarantee he'd be back in the finals, that Thunder team was perfectly built to suit his game. The Thunder would have been a top 3 team in the league, and they had a better chance than 95% of the league, to get back to the WCF and ultimately the Finals (or as great of a chance as KD provided).

That would have been worthy of celebration. Worthy of respect.

I truly believe part of the problem with the NBA is how we the fans and the media have covered and talked about it. We focus on the outcome instead of the journey -- and in doing so, we've completely missed the true beauty of the sport.

@David, life truly is short. We see how fast time flies, especially after having a kiddo. lol. You are correct sir. We do need to cherish every second we get. Thankful for you and this blog. Here's to many many more years of 20seconds :)

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 1:19:00 PM, Anonymous Kevin Poyani said...

I thought about attending the game live as it is a bucket list goal of mine to attend a live all star game. Decided it wasn’t worth it for external reasons and given the state of the game I’m glad I did not

Next years game will be in San Francisco iirc which is basically my neighborhood so I’ll probably attend that one but I’m expecting more or less a similar experience

It’s just not what it used to be. Today’s nba players seem to enjoy the vibe and status of being a pro basketball player more than actually enjoying competing and being the best

Frustrating because talent wise this is probably the most talented the league has been since idk 09ish, and we have several promising players under 26 that probably have another gear or two in them with Giannis/Jokic/Embiid all still at their apex for at least another 2-3 years

Makes it all the more frustrating that they’re whining about having to play 65+ games (80+ used to be the norm back then….) and needing money incentives when they’re already making way more (even adjusting for inflation) than previous generations playing a kids game that wasn’t around 150 years ago and isn’t necessary to stick around going forward. Pathetic

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 3:21:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I think that each team-jumping situation should be viewed individually. I did not like the way that LeBron left Cleveland the first time, but he was a free agent and had the contractual right to sign wherever he wanted to sign. Same thing with Durant leaving OKC and signing with Golden State; I did not like it, but he had a contractual right to do that.

To me, it is much more problematic when guys like Harden and Lillard sign for all of the money that they can get and then force their way out when they are under contract. Harden and Lillard could have left as free agents, but they would have received less money, so they signed contracts and then whined their way out of town.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 3:25:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you for your kind words, and your long-term support of this website.

I share your distaste for team-jumping in general, but I distinguish between players exercising their free agency rights and players who force a trade while they are under contract.

I don't think that the issue is how the league is covered in terms of emphasizing winning over "the journey." The issue is that society as a whole has changed and has become more self-centered. People tend to not think about the bigger picture, but just about what they think will make them happy in the short term. Harden did not leave the 76ers because the 76ers could not win a title; he left because he did not like his role and he felt disrespected.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 3:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


All-Star Weekend in person can be a fun experience even though the game itself is trash now.

I am not sure that the league is as talented now as some people say. Many of the best players have little idea of how to play winning basketball, and we see how Team USA struggles in FIBA play because of this. Basketball is a team sport; there may be more NBA players than ever who could play for the Globetrotters but that does not mean that the league is more talented than ever in terms of basketball ability that is focused on team success in a competitive environment. Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, and Damian Lillard are cited as talented players, but I would not take any of them over Isiah Thomas, Dennis Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, John Stockton, and other top two-way guards from the 1980s who played winning basketball. Obviously, I would not take them over Magic or Jordan.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 3:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jordan, that's kind of my point. It's irrelevant how the all-time greats arrived at a destination. The fact is they arrived. Russell got lucky initially, Wilt didn't. While we might not like superstars joining loaded teams via free agency, they're still arriving at the same destination as Russell and many other all-time greats did but in different ways, and we shouldn't hold that against players do that when rating them. Almost every player except maybe Russell and some of his teammates had to go through losing. And Bird really didn't either until his 2 last seasons when he was definitely not a superstar anymore, so that's different.

I meant 2005-2007, 2008 was looking the same. Kobe was fed up long before then. His days were numbered in LA if the Lakers didn't do something fast. I disagree he needed those years to understand anything. He more than any other player fully knew nobody wins without any help. Kobe is legendary playing through pain, I seriously doubt many, if any, current AS wouldn't have played game 7 in the NBA Finals with the same injuries as Kobe.

I disagree about Durant. He's viewed higher because of his 2 titles now. It was easier with GS, but he was much better than Curry individually at that time and overall for his career. Curry got lucky to have a better team built around him, too. James, for example, showed the path of least resistance many times, too. Durant was the best player in the playoffs overall at least during his 2 title runs.

David, you might be right forcing a trade under contract looks worse and should be frowned upon, but the bottom line, guys are leaving one way or another. I'm just saying we shouldn't penalize players for wanting a better cast or a good enough cast to try to win. Some players luck out with it initially, but some don't. The journey is different, but the destination is still the same.

At Wednesday, February 21, 2024 4:28:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


1) I distinguish between what I personally don't like versus what I think that the NBA should legislate out of existence. I don't like that LeBron left Cleveland in 2010, nor do I like the way that he left--but I don't think that the NBA should legislate free agency out of existence. I feel the same way about Durant leaving OKC to join the Warriors.

In contrast, I think that the NBA should legislate out of existence the way that some players--most recently, Harden and Lillard--sign big money deals and then demand trades while they are still under contract. I realize that the league would have to collectively bargain with the Players Association to accomplish this, but I recall that David Stern figured out that the players make zero money when they are on strike or locked out, and that can be a powerful incentive to negotiate reasonably.

2) Unlike many people, I don't downgrade my analysis of LeBron or Durant because I dislike what they did. The standard for players of that caliber is to win championships when they are on championship caliber teams. Both players accomplished that, though of course LeBron had at least two very questionable playoff performances (2010, 2011).

People who dislike LeBron or Durant and then come up with nonsense reasons to assert that Miami was Wade's team or Golden State was Curry's team sound foolish. James was by far the Heat's best player, and Durant was by far the Warriors' best player. The fact that Wade won one title without James or that Curry has won two titles without Durant does not change the reality of what happened when those respective duos operated.

3) So, I do think that it matters how a player leaves a team and how teams are put together, but I keep that separate from my player evaluations. I understand why people think that James and Durant made "soft" moves but James and Durant were the best players on those championship teams after they made their moves.


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