How to enjoy the All-Star Game again: United States vs. Rest of the World

By Aris Barkas /

he 72nd NBA All-Star Game it was a total disappointment, and so an old European idea can bring back past glories.

Although the All-Star Game concept is distinctively American, many European countries – as basketball flourished during the 1990s – tried to imitate it and many still do with mixed results. However, if the NBA All-Star Game is increasingly a game where the final result is irrelevant, the All-Star Games, in general, are on the decline.

The Euroleague didn’t even try and the biggest national league in Europe, the Liga Endesa, also passes the All-Stars. Its flagship product is actually the King’s Cup, a model also copied in Europe.

The idea of ​​bringing fans of many teams together to enjoy the game is good and can work, but also having matches with relevance and the prize of a “real” trophy handed out at the end works much better with European fans.

There are some exceptions, such as this year’s French League All-Star. It was Wembanyama’s party, but it takes a magnet as the first pick in the upcoming NBA draft to make it work.

A rivalry that motivates the players

For years, the rivalry between East and West was enough for all NBA stars to play their best game on the hardwood. The All-Star – and also the dunk contest – was a rite of passage for any young player who wanted to compete with the greats.

Over time, this motivation diminished. In the modern NBA era, where injuries can cost millions and “game load management” is embraced, killing yourself in an exhibition game makes no sense.

But the All-Star, at least on the court, needs to play a competitive game. In recent years, only Giannis Antetokounmpo had wanted to prove himself in the All-Star Game and that brought a breath of fresh air to the game, which reached its peak in Chicago in 2020, when the last quarter of the game ended. after many many years.

So having the USA vs Rest of the World format might change things, although the idea was recently abandoned in the Rising Stars Game.

One of the main attractions of FIBA ​​basketball, especially when the United States participates, is having other teams eager to compete with the best. That can also happen in NBA All-Star, and given that this is a global league, it makes more sense.

a world party

For many years, All-Star was applied in Europe with one team consisting of local players and one team of “foreigners”, mainly Americans.

There have been some variations, but generally that’s the idea. Sometimes, depending on the level of local talent, you might see Europeans against non-Europeans, but that’s about it.

And finally, there are so many international stars in the NBA, that a game between the United States and the rest of the world makes sense. Eurohoops explored the idea in 2018, but a similar article was presented this year on the official NBA website showing that the idea is more mature than ever.

Given the impact of historic matches, such as the United States’ 2006 World Cup semi-final loss to Greece and also the 2008 Olympic final between Pau Gasol’s Spain and Kobe Bryant’s United States, the only explanation that can be considered valid for the NBA not to try this format, it is the belief that the international team will be easy prey.

With seven international All-Stars this year—eight according to the NBA, which considers Kyrie Irving to be Australian-born—including household names like Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo, this change should be a no-brainer. this year’s fiasco in Utah.

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