2018-19 NBA All-Star Game preview: A closer look at this year’s All-Star weekend in Charlotte

Randy Sforza, Sports Writer

Finally, it’s that magnificent time of the year were the NBA regular season shuts down for a moment and allows its stars to take front stage in the spectral showcase known as All-Star Weekend.

Every season, there always seems to be story lines linked to All-Star weekend and here is a few narratives to keep an eye out for.  

All-Star game leading to new playoff format

NBA players seem to have more power and control over their league than any other athlete in American Sports. When LeBron James decided to take his talents to south beach and join the Miami Heat, it was wasn’t only an attempt at pursuing NBA championships, he was showing other superstar players that they could build their own legacies and didn’t need to succumb to being puppets and chess pieces for NBA executives to play with. Ultimately, mega-star Kevin Durant would follow in LeBron’s footsteps and decide to join a super team of his very own, I.e. the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.

In today’s era, the players more than the general managers control how great a team can potentially become. NBA players now can request trades mid-season and tell franchise where they want to play.

A perfect example of this trend is the Anthony Davis situation in New Orleans. The players truly runs the league. Now, if players run the league, wouldn’t you feel obligated to make sure as a business you market what sells your brand? Franchises are slowly becoming less important while players are being empower, which also might illuminates that it’s time to scrap the current NBA playoff seeding and change the format; the best 16 teams go to the tournament instead of allowing bad 8th seeded teams to join a bracket just because they are lucky enough to play in a weaker conference.

From 1951 to 2017 the NBA all-star game format was traditionally Eastern All-Stars versus Western All-Stars. However, over the last two All-Star Games, the player who acquires the most votes in both conferences gets the opportunity to draft their team. In 2018, team captains were Steph Curry and LeBron James, this year its LeBron and Milwaukee Bucks’ Small Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nevertheless the captain, the league has conceded that the game should be about the players instead of conference affiliation. This impactful change could lead to NBA bracket changing as well. The success of the 2019 All-Star Game is vital to incorporating a new playoff format.

All-Star Weekend’s impact on 2019’s free agency

The second structural impact that this weekend possess is the influence it may have in the offseason, specifically on July 1st, when free agency opens. Team Captain LeBron James has already been accused by some members of the media of only selecting players in the first-round who are expected to reach the free agency, so he can recruit them to come join the Los Angeles Lakers.

Besides James Harden, each one of LeBron’s first-round picks is a free agent this summer: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard. In addition, LeBron’s first two picks second-round picks were Anthony Davis (on the trading block) and Klay Thompson (expected free agent), two players who might be interested in joining the King this summer in LA.

Even if LeBron didn’t pick them because of their pending free agency status, he still needs to demonstrate why he is the considered the greatest basketball player of this era. If he puts on a show this weekend and creates a super-star friendly aura, some players might invest in joining him. Nonetheless, members of the media are missing a significant point. Even if LeBron is attempting to recruit by drafting certain players in the All-Star game, it could all backfire on LeBron.

LeBron drafted a bunch of players who may become free agents, but what if they do exercise their player rights and become free agents, but they come to the conclusion they like playing with each other more than playing alongside LeBron. The New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to clear the decks to sign two max-contract players; E.g. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard. Imagine if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant like playing with each other so much that they form a super-team in New York. That sounds pretty poetic given the fact that these are two men that LeBron has impacted, and could do what he did in Miami to him.

Final farewell

Well, here is the sad impact this game has on the NBA world. Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki will play in their final All-Star game this Sunday. Both Legends were added as a way to pay respect to the great men that are leaving the game of basketball.
Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki are truly going to be missed.