The NBA held its 2023 All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City over the weekend, and events were capped off by what some people are calling, the “worst game ever played.”
The game was so poorly received that even players were calling out the lack of effort from their teammates as fans turned away from the spectacle in droves. Fox News explained that the 2023 All-Star game was a complete ratings disaster for the NBA, saying:
“According to Nielsen Media Research, the game on TNT had a total audience of 3.7 million, down 32% from the year before when the total audience was just over 5.4 million.
“In the coveted demographic of adults between the ages of 25-54, the 2023 ratings were down 28%.
“It was the smallest All-Star Game audience on record, according to Sports Media Watch. “
Michael Malone, head coach of the Denver Nuggets, coached Team LeBron in the event, but was still quick to decry this as the “worst game ever played.” He continued lamenting the All-Star game, in a quote shared by Fox News:
“I don’t know if you can fix it. I give Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, those guys were competing. Joel was imploring some of the guys to play harder, to try and get some defense in. But no one got hurt. They put on a show for the fans, but that is a tough game to sit through, I’m not going to lie.”
Jaylen Brown, the star shooting guard for the Boston Celtics, shared a similar sentiment. He was clearly upset at the lack of effort and defense, which was apparent for the entirety of the game that finished with a stunningly high score of 184-175. He said:
“That wasn’t basketball. That was just highlights and layups and jump shots. Probably just two foul calls the entire game. For me, I’m sure people would like to see a little bit more than what we displayed. But I guess that’s the format of what we’ve been doing, and I’m not sure how to change it.”
The game has become such a broken version of basketball that many fans and people around the league are asking if the event can be saved. In its current state, the NBA All-Star game resembles a pregame warmup more than a display of the best talent from around the world. Sure, there were cool slam dunks and stunning displays of shooting, but if the players don’t care about the final score then the fans won’t either.
While plenty of ideas are being tossed around as potential plans to improve the game, none seem to have stuck yet. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander offered up the idea to give players a financial incentive to win, but even in that case, would an NBA superstar really put his season on the line to battle for a small prize? LeBron James makes over $40,000,000 a year playing for the Lakers, so the amount of money it would take to make a guy like that care must be lucrative.
One way or another, the NBA All-Star game is set to see some huge changes in the near future.
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