While the internet is still abuzz with Fergie’s disastrous national anthem rendition, everyone agrees that — despite a few bizarre entertainment segments courtesy of Kevin Hart — the new NBA All-Star format was a huge hit.
For the first time, the NBA broke with the traditional (and often uneven) East vs. West matchup for an exciting twist pitting Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen, which involved the captains drafting their most desirable players.
“But I think the format was great. I think the fans did a great job of reacting to it in a very positive way,” James said during the post-game press conference following his team’s 148-145 victory.
“The great thing about our commissioner, he’s absolutely OK with trying something new, to change the format, and it definitely worked out for everybody,” he continued, referring to Adam Silver. “It worked out not only for the players, not only for the league, but for our fans, for everybody. It was a great weekend, and we capped it off the right way.”
Of course, that “capping off” also involved James being crowned MVP for the third time of his career.
Along with captaining his team to overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers star also had the last possession of the game, which ironically ended on a defensive stop. The three-time NBA Champion then flew down the court with his arms up in ecstatic celebration, like a little kid who’d won his first game (as opposed to one of the most famous athletes in the world after what is essentially an exhibition game).
— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2018
“Championships is what I play for, and along the way you’re able to have — if you’re able to have some accolades along the journey, then it’s really cool, and this is one of them,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do. We just added four new guys before the break, and we have a lot of work to do.”
James also revealed on what order he picked his team — a matter that has been highly debated — saying: “I took Kevin first, then I took Anthony Davis, and I followed that with Kyrie and DeMarcus.”
Many people, most notably ESPN’s Rachel Nichols have campaigned to have the draft aired live, and Silver has now conceded. “When we sat with the union and we came up with this format, we all agreed, let’s not turn something that’s 100 percent positive into a potential negative to any player,” the commissioner said. “But then … maybe we’re overly conservative, because then we came out of there, and the players were, ‘We can take it. We’re All-Stars. Let’s have a draft.’ So it sounds like we’re going to have a televised draft next year.”
Despite leading the losing team Sunday night, Golden State Warriors phenomena Curry was also singing the praises of the new format. “It was an amazing environment, obviously with the new format, having guys mix and match from different conferences, same conference, whatever the case is,” he told reporters.
In a sharp contrast to prior year’s blowouts, the point guard for the current NBA champions described the 2018 All-Star as “a very competitive game. I think we did it the right way — showcased our talents and our skills and put on a show, so that was fun.”
The success of this year’s All-Star also reflected in the ratings for host network TNT, with viewership peaking with an average of 8.2 million total viewers. The telecast drew a 4.3 U.S. household rating and 5.1 million household impressions — both up 2 percent — and marking the highest for All-Star since 2013, based on Nielsen Fast Nationals. Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms were also up 101 percent in video starts for the over last year.
The 2019 NBA All-Star will take place in Curry’s home city of Charlotte, North Carolina. “It will be great finally getting the game there, first time in a while,” he said. “It will be kind of crazy for the Curry family. But it will be a really cool experience to go home and enjoy bringing the NBA and celebrating the game of basketball and what the NBA is about in Charlotte.”