Stephen Curry’s lack of effort reportedly was the final straw for Chris Paul.
Like many other basketball fans, the Los Angeles Clippers point guard watched with chagrin as the 2017 NBA All-Star Game descended into a sideshow, and Curry’s third-quarter dive onto the court in order to avoid Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dunk represented the moment Paul, the National Basketball Players Association president, decided to change the game, according to Bleacher Report’s Ken Berger.
“For the first time, he actually just sat at home and watched it like a fan would watch it,” a person close to Paul told Bleacher Report. “I got the sense that he thought what everybody else thought; there’s very little competition. He’s an ultra-competitive guy. ? I think he viewed it from a different perspective and was like, ‘Holy crap, we’ve got to do something.'”
What struck one NBA executive was the best players’ lack of competitive fire in front of a global audience.
“These are guys who get mad at each other when they’re running through plays in a shootaround,” the executive told Bleacher Report. “They’re extremely competitive. So it seemed odd to me that they’d get in front of 20,000 people and millions on TV, and all they cared about was dunks and three-pointers.”
Paul called NBA commissioner Adam Silver the next day and said “We have to fix this,” the source says.
Having watched the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182, Silver agreed wholeheartedly.
“It was almost a relief,” an NBA source told Bleacher Report. “It was like, ‘Thank God, they feel this way, too.'”
With apparent backing from his NBA peers, Paul dispatched NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to meet with Silver with the goal of devising a new All-Star game format in which captains pick teams from among the 24 All-Stars. Silver and Roberts also received crucial support from Michael Jordan, the legendary NBA player who now owns the Charlotte Hornets and chairs the league’s labor-relations committee.
“Michael was heavily involved,” said one of the people familiar with the meetings.
Since Silver wanted to bolster the All-Star Game product, and the fiercely competitive Paul and Jordan aimed to add some fire to the annual event, change was destined to come in the aftermath of the forgettable contests of recent years.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images