BY TERRY LYONS
BOSTON – On a slow news day at a sports conference dedicated to statistics, analytics and all things championed by self-proclaimed stat-geeks, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decided to drop a breaking news alert when he told FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver that the league was fast addressing the fact the 2017 NBA All-Star Game had little to no intensity or defense. While every basketball fan who watched the annual All-Star Game would think the changes might come from grizzled and stodgy old coaches or past Legends of the game (calling Jerry West and Oscar Robertson,) the NBA’s Silver noted the impetus behind the move should be credited to Chris Paul, the popular point guard of the LA Clippers and president of the NBA Players Association.
The NBA’s Silver and FiveThirtyEight’s Silver were going “One-on-One” at a jam-packed Bill James Conference Room at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston where the topics ranged from the typical NBA globalization planning to the league and its players being more progressive and outspoken than any others in the current political climate. Yet, the news broke when Nate Silver tossed up a softball question about the lack of competitiveness and a possible 200-point team score at the recent NBA ALL-Star Game in New Orleans.
“I have to credit Chris Paul,” said the NBA’s Silver, noting Paul did not participate in the game as an All-Star, the NBA Commissioner said, “Chris Paul reached out to me about two days after the game, saying, “we need to fix this.”
“We have to have a ‘re-set,” added the NBA Commissioner of the exhibition game which produced a 192-182 score and little to zero defensive effort by either team. There shouldn’t be playoff intensity, but guys should be competing,” noted the NBA Commissioner who often takes suggestions from the active players, such as increasing the length of the NBA All-Star break.
Paul suggested to the NBA that they reconvene a group of currrent and former players and others who took part in a Collective Bargaining Agreement meeting to address deficiencies in the NBA game. That group included Charlotte Hornets team owner Michael Jordan and a host of the current NBA All-Stars, like Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James and others.
Adam Silver also tossed out that Paul thought “Team Captains” might help galvanize the players under a common thread to help increase intensity. At the game in New Orleans, media and players suggested the possibility of putting significant cash prizes on the line, and players quickly added that it would be best if those cash prizes were awarded to a special charity effort the players “could play for” during the weekend.
The NBA will fast-track the issue in order to have changes implemented before the start of the next season and the changes will be in place before the 2018 NBA ALl-Star game, scheduled to be played at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.