'Back to Basketball': NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces All-Star game's return to classic format
In an effort to make the NBA All-Star game more competitive, there won't be a player draft and instead, they will go back to playing East vs. West.
Before the Pacers tipped off the 2023-24 regular season at home against the Washington Wizards, a special press conference was held inside the entry pavilion of Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in Indianapolis and, as Steve Simon noted, he was attending the Pacers’ opener for the first time.
The commissioner was in town, fresh off a flight from Denver to attend the Nuggets’ ring ceremony on Tuesday, to be part of several announcements relating to NBA All-Stars 2024 in Indianapolis. First, he got a “deluxe” tour of the downtown and all the improvements, including Bicentennial Unity Plaza, then he met with team executives and city leaders before making this announcement.
The All-Star game would be going back to the classic format of East vs. West rather a collection of All-Stars named and then the drafting of teams, and the Elam Ending was no more. They will be returning to the standard 12-minute quarters.
“It felt like it was time,” Silver said after the press conference with a few local reporters.
“In keeping with this overall theme of back to basketball this season, we heard it from our fans and I think the players recognized it too, that last year’s All-Star game was something no one was proud of. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault in particular. I think, though, that maybe we need to refocus ourselves on what this league is really about and that’s about the best basketball in the world.
“There’s something about being in Indiana and Indianapolis that makes you think about the game at its roots. Ultimately, we thought if there was ever a place to restore the NBA to something that seemed more classic was at an All-Star game in Indianapolis.
“When we talked to the players about it, to their executive committee and players’ association to CJ McCollum, who is president of the union, I think everybody instantly said that seems like the right thing to do.”
Silver stressed how they still want to innovate, but cannot get too cute. For the past few years, they held a live draft in the arena right before the game.
“The feedback we got was that the live draft was interesting, but it was reminder to everybody — at the league office and around the league — that ultimately it’s about the game,” he said. “If the game is in order, you can do all those fun things but they need to be ancillary to the game. It was just a reminder that don’t lose focus on what’s most important and that is the game itself.”
The theme of back to basketball started in the offseason when the Player Participation Policy was established. “We are an 82-game season with the expectation that our players, when healthy, will be on the floor,” Silver made clear.
It also extends to the All-Star game, where I’m certain several players didn’t spend the entire weekend in Salt Lake City. LeBron James participated in a required press conference hours before the game and he was first to speak afterward; then, he was on the first private jet out of town.
Tyrese Haliburton, a first-time All-Star then, joked that he was learning from his mistake and might be the only player staying in town on that Sunday.
Players, coaches and the league saw what fans and media saw. It was a bad product. Guys were dogging it, taking it easy and playing
little no defense. Not even the superstars. It was layups, 3s, and wild shots from anywhere. And it made for a bad watch, which the league is acknowledging.
“Everyone in our community — coaches, players, teams — all understood the significance of that change, which was a return to something that more closely resembled a competitive basketball game,” Silver said.