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NBA reportedly considering return to East vs. West, other All-Star changes

2023 NBA All-Star - NBA All-Star Game

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 19: An overall of the arena during the NBA All-Star Game as part of 2023 NBA All Star Weekend on Sunday, February 19, 2023 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA All-Star Game itself has become borderline unwatchable. The Saturday night events — especially when the Dunk Contest works, as it did this season — are far more entertaining and dramatic. The Sunday game has less defense than a Sunday morning pickup game on the asphalt at the park.

The NBA is again looking for other ways to spark the event — like the target score ending, which has had some success — and that could mean going away from the player draft of the past several years and returning to an East vs. West format. The league and players union are discussing it as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, reports Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

The league can shake up the format of the game, but the challenge starts with how the players approach the weekend.

“I think they’ve done a good job with changing the ending of the game, but you know, safety first, right?” Jayson Tatum said after winning the All-Star MVP award last February. “You know it’s supposed to be fun, you don’t want anybody to get injured or get hurt.”

Guys are playing it safe. They will not defend like it’s the playoffs unless there are real stakes in the game, and that’s hard to do with an exhibition. It’s good that the NBA and NBPA are looking for answers, there simply may not be any good ones.